About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

When Corruption was King by Robert Cooley with Hillel Levin

5. - 468.) When Corruption was King by Robert Cooley with Hillel Levin – Bob “the Mechanic” (because he could fix anything) Cooley is an excellent storyteller but his legal career and the Chicago judicial system of the 1960’s (probably earlier) to 1990’s was appalling. He was a willing participant, both as a police officer and a lawyer, in the casual pervasive corruption of Chicago’s courts. While describing himself as a saint and a sinner in his youth there were precious few examples of sainthood. His vices and scrapes with authority make it doubtful he would be able to become a lawyer today. He was a talented trial lawyer with a flair for courtroom dramatics (48 and 2 record in jury trials). How many were honestly won is not stated. I was stunned by the ease with which judgments were purchased. In almost 34 years as a lawyer in Saskatchewan I have never even dreamed there was a corrupt judge in the province. Immersed in a gambling lifestyle (actual a successful gambler) with a host of mob friends Cooley impulsively decided to become a federal informant. The pivotal reason seems to be as an act of atonement to his deceased father, a scrupulously honest Chicago police officer. The wired Cooley ultimately devastated the Chicago mob (“the Outfit”) and destroyed the First Ward political/mob machine and brought about desperately needed reforms in the court system. Several senior judges were convicted. Despite a $1,000,000 bounty and not being in the federal witness protection program (he preferred his wits to moves orchestrated by the FBI) he remains alive. Cooley was scathing in his assessment of fellow mob lawyer, Ed Genson. He described him as sloppy, ill-prepared, belligerent and incompetent at cross-examination. At times I thought part of the criticism was personal spleen. Still, while never stated, you have to think about Genson’s role in the system after hearing about Cooley’s role. After reading the book it is easier to understand criticism of Genson’s defence of Conrad Black. With Governor, Rod Blagojevich, facing impeachment over trying to sell the senate seat of President Barrack Obama in 2008 I wonder about the current Chicago judicial system. (Jan. 21/09) (Tied for third most interesting of 2009) Since writing the review Blagojevich has been convicted of corruption joining a long list of convicted Illinois politicians.


  1. Amazing! It reminds me of some of the awful stories I hear of Italian court corruption via my husband's Italian colleagues and via our Italy correspondent. There was one case, for example, in which the judge was married to the prosecutor. I am not making this up.

  2. Bill - It is an amazing story! In fact, corruption in Chicago's law enforcement system, from the "cop on the beat" to the highest-placed judges, has been a bitter running joke in the States for a very, very long time. Unfortunately (because I really like the city) Chicago has become a byword for graft, corruption and legal wrongdoing.

  3. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. I am not familiar with the Italian legal system. It would be best to stay out of trouble in Chicago and Italy.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It has surprised me that Chicago has not been able to clean itself when they have had repeated campaigns in the past 100 years.