The final third of their book, the unspooling of Whitey’s 16 years hiding in plain sight and the halting search for him, is a fascinating portrait of an aging, retired gangster in hiding.
There are obvious heroes and villains here, though Cullen and Murphy generally refrain from explicitly labeling either. Instead, they write with an effective restraint, letting their reporting tell the good, the bad, and the horrifying. But they do, on occasion, allow glimmers of empathy, such as when Connolly’s life falls apart.
They understand, without condoning, how it was that two men from Old Harbor ostensibly on opposite sides of the law could collude, and they note, without comment, that Connolly was the only fed legally punished for what appears to be wider Department of Justice complicity. Their retelling of the moment Connolly was sentenced to 10 years in prison provides a rare moment of pathos.
“He had lost everything,” they write, “except his own illusions.”
And the same, finally, can be said of Whitey.
Sean Flynn, a correspondent for GQ, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.