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 he appears only fleetingly in true crime books and documentaries. Not much is known about him; he was at once a mercurial and an ominous figure in the bizarre society that was the Boston underworld. I had already written a prequel of sorts about the subject (“On the Boston Waterfront,” see link in Notable Features) 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 link in Notable Features) features many of the same characters: Maxie Shackelford, a primary source of Boston's Gangland War of the 1960s, counted them as friends. I found him at the end of his life and he shared firsthand 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" was a World War II combat veteran, a father of five, and the most prolific hitman in New England. His story has been left alone for good reason. But he was not what anyone thought he was; his daughter, who has an unforgettable story of her own, introduces us to a fascinating personality marred by tragedy and motivated by principle.
Forget Whitey Bulger and what you think you know about the Boston underworld. This story is told from the inside out; its revelations are startling.
True Crime? This is something much more.
Working title: Don't Talk About Joe Mac
A working draft of the manuscript (~117,000 words) is ready. Interested publishers and curious producers please see Contact page.