Murder, Inc. Acknowledgments

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This splendid new edition of the 1951 true crime classic by Burton B. Turkus and Sid Feder came about through a circuitous route. As noted in the Foreward, Nick Pileggi first drew me into the world of Murder Incorporated in the late 1990’s. He not only introduced me to the book, but provided me with literally hundreds of yellowed news clips from the many New York papers that covered Burt’s reign as “Mr. Arsenic.” Nick has been an inspiration to me both as a journalist and a screen writer for years and we are now collaborating on a dramatic television series that will tell the epic story of organized crime from the days of the Syndicate up through the Colombo war of the 1990’s.

But it was Michael King, the legendary producer who brought Oprah Winfrey to a national audience, who first caught the vision of Murder Inc.’s potential for the screen. He optioned the Turkus-Feder book in 1988 and hired me ten years later to write the mini-series that got me hooked on the murderous crew of characters from the candy store.  I owe Michael a debt of gratitude along with Steve LoCasio, who was, for many years, the Chief Financial Officer at King World, Michael’s production company and who, most recently as CFO of CBS Television Distribution, made it possible for me to get the rights back to my scripts in anticipation of the series which will also be based on my new book SIX SIX SIX.  Another significant supporter in my efforts to bring Murder Inc. to television has been Jeff Sagansky, the former President of CBS Entertainment and CBS Broadcasting for whom I worked when I was executive producer on Wiseguy, a dramatic T.V. series – not to be confused with Nick Pileggi’s seminal book of the same name. Jeff, who also served as co-president of Sony Pictures Entertainment and V.P. of Sony Corp. of America, has been incredibly generous with his time and sage advice.

I am also indebted to a former classmate of mine at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Peter Frishauf. He has been an ardent supporter of the Murder Inc. television project, which is now in the hands of the immensely successful producer Arthur Sarkissian, whom I met many years ago after we connected on a screenplay I’d written about the Iran-Contra scandal.

The book you are holding in your hands, which is, all at once, an exact replica of the 1951 hardcover original from Farrar, Strauss & Young, but so much more in its inclusion of photographs, mug shots and Brooklyn maps, could not have come to press in its current form as an ebook and trade paperback without the extraordinary design skills of Walton Mendelson. He has lovingly and painstakingly taken the original book and reset it for the paperback in its precise type face and pagination, while, for the first time, creating a Kindle edition. I most recently collaborated with Walton on the new Tenacity Media Books edition of Stranger 456, my latest fictional thriller and the eye-catching covers for both books were designed by my old friend – the gifted artist Wells Moore. I would also like to thank Ivy Marvel, Archivist at the Brooklyn Collection of the Brooklyn Public Library and Michael Lorenzini, Curator of Photography at the NYC Municipal Archives, for their generous help in locating the crime scene photos, mug shots and maps.

It’s now time to acknowledge the most important players in the realization of this new edition: the families of Burton Turkus and Sid Feder. Ann, Burt’s widow is literally an American national treasure. Still incredibly active at the age of 91, she was a tremendous asset, not only in helping me cut through the ticket of rights surrounding the book, but in her tireless support for my efforts to bring Murder Inc. back into print and onto the screen. She has an encyclopedic memory of life with one of the most honest and uncompromising prosecutors in New York history and she will be an invaluable resource when we begin producing the series. Sid Feder’s granddaughter Amy, has also been a passionately helpful supporter, along with her mother Mona Rubenstein and her aunt Lynn Jeffrey. There’s little doubt that Sid’s great skills as a reporter and wordsmith made Burt’s first-person voice in this book resonate on every page.

As a gumshoe reporter myself I wish that Sid could be here to experience this new edition particularly in its digital form and in order to do justice to Murder Inc. 2012 I’ve redesigned my website www.peterlance.com with the help of Tom Morine a hugely talented designer at www.thesba.com where I’ve stored the body of my work for years. Along with Walt Conrad, Will Rose and Andrew Lacquiere, Tom has helped take my website from a tabloid jumble designed using the now defunct Apple iWeb program, to a robust Word Press site with immense connectivity to the world community.
In a final note I want to express my gratitude to Cal Morgan, my tireless editor and longtime collaborator at HarperCollins who has been the very definition of patience while I took years to finish my forth investigative book on the FBI: SIX SIX SIX. If Murder Inc. was a defining book for the state of organized crime in the 1930’s and ‘40’s it’s my hope that with Cal’s steady hand, SIX SIX SIX will come to play a similar role in chronicling the growth of La Cosa Nostra from the 1950’s through the 1990’s. The new files I detail in SIX SIX SIX prove that the FBI took a decidedly different approach to fighting what they called “the Mafia enemy,” than Burton B. Turkus. Rather than simply hunting down the killers and prosecuting them for the homicidal gangsters that they were, J. Edgar Hoover and his special agents began to collaborate with them – allowing a cold-blooded capo like Gregory Scarpa Sr. to operate with the Bureau’s protection as he committed murder and mayhem across the streets of Brooklyn with an intensity and ferocity that rivaled anything Louis Lepke Buchalter ever unleashed. In dismissing murder chargers against Scarpa Sr.’s FBI contacting agent and “handler,” R. Lindley DeVecchio in 2007, Judge Gustin Reichbach nonetheless called that relationship between the FBI and the mob killer “a deal with the devil.” And when readers of this new edition of Murder Inc. finally page through SIX SIX SIX, they’ll appreciate what a giant in law enforcement Burton Turkus truly was.

One Response to Murder, Inc. Acknowledgments

  1. Wally Skwisz Reply

    July 7, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Peter:
    Heard you on Coast to Coast AM last nite. If I were ever President, I would appoint you Director of Homeland Secutity , for life, you are the best !!!!

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