Surveillance photo, 1979
What's coming ...
I’ve heard whispers about the life and crimes of Winter Hill gangster Joe McDonald (1917-1997) for years, though the determination to write a book about him came only after watching The Irishman and realizing that I have access to a story at least as good. I had already written a prequel of sorts (“On the Boston Waterfront,” see below) about a working-class hero who got caught up in the waterfront feud of the 1950s and was killed only steps from his mother's house. “Confessions of a Loan Shark” (see below) features many of the same characters. Maxie Shackelford, who got caught up in Boston's Gangland War of the 1960s, counted them as friends. I found him at the end of his life and he shared details about what happened that had been buried, along with his friends, for decades. Joe McDonald haunts both stories. He haunts the Boston underworld, even today.
Who was he? "Joe Mac," as he was known, was a World War II combat veteran and a father of five. He was also an extremely dangerous man whose criminal career spanned five decades and whose body count dwarfs his peers'. His story has been left alone for good reason. Those who knew him still look around before opening up, and they are opening up (my accent helps; channels help more).
Forget Whitey Bulger and what you think you know about the Winter Hill Gang. The truth about Joe Mac -his tragic origins, unsolved murders, and the bizarre society he moved in- is unlike anything you've ever encountered.
True Crime? This is something much more.
Working title: Don't Talk About Joe Mac
Final draft estimated Fall 2022