“Recollections of a Racketeer: Smuggling Hash and Cash Around the World” by Patrick Lane and Howard Marks

recollections of a racketeer

The first thing I find to say about this book is my incomprehension as to why Howard Marks is credited with co-authorship. It appears to be Patrick Lane’s work. Of course I am aware, and it is clear from Mr. Lane’s book, he and Marks were not only partners-in-crime but also brothers-in-law.

A cynic may observe that Marks’ name may help sell more copies of Lane’s book. Indeed, it may have been a decision taken by the publisher, Thistle Publishing, to add Mr. Marks as a co-author for commercial reasons as this appears to be almost the same book originally published in 2009. However, I will do my best to dilute my cynicism in the following review.

One overwhelming takeaway I have from the book is an almost love/hate relationship between these two men. Indeed, the new epilogue is added by Lane for this newly released edition and is mainly a tribute of a kind to the now deceased and self-styled “Mr. Nice” aka Howard Marks. But I do detect the subtle sideswipes at his erstwhile partner.

I found the book to be an “okay “read but somewhat disappointing. I think the disappointment was in the manner of presentation. It was a confusing mish-mash at time and certain facts were repeated a number of times in different chapters. For example, I lost count of the number of times the reader was informed that Lane had a fish smoking plant in a seedy part of Miami; in a street inhabited by hookers and drug addicts, Cubans and Haitians. Perhaps the many drugs he had used over the years as part of a chaotic and disorganised lifestyle lead on naturally (to him) to adopting a similar chaotic and disorganised treatment in the laying out of his book? One would have thought a thorough edit of the book would have been advisable before release of the “new” edition. It should have also picked up on the many typos proving it is not only some self-published books that are replete with typos!

Make no mistake it was confusing in places. Names would suddenly pop up with no forewarning then several chapters later I realised he had been referring to his daughter, Peggy (I think).

A further disappointment for me was the many mundane episodes of his childhood and early years such as the trip to Birmingham in his father’s car on the opening of the first English motorway [note to the author – the first English motorway was in Preston, Lancashire and nowhere near Birmingham].

Many of the parts of the book dealing with the drug dealing and money laundering were interesting and held my attention. Some were downright funny such as the time Marks and Lane allegedly convinced some New York “muscle” that they were in Norway and not Scotland. But in the attempt at humour, I have to say other episodes fell into the “you had to be there” category.

The “racketeering” element of the book is set in the main in the 1970’s, and 1980’s. Cannabis was the drug involved. It all seems a little dated now but the author does give a genuine feel for the times in his writing. Lane does bless his “Irish luck” for having remained undetected for so long. That may have been because the commodity was pot and not cocaine or heroin. I doubt whether the law enforcement agencies saw them as a priority even in that era. It’s not as if to say they remained inconspicuous with their hedonistic lifestyle, BMW sports cars, and frequent flier miles as they jetted about Europe, Asia and North America. But according to Lane “it was never about the money.” Isn’t that what they all say?

The author does manage to write one really powerful passage when he describes looking at his family following his arrest in Florida. “They are the ones to suffer” are his thoughts as he reflects on a lifetime of indolence, lawbreaking, and in his own words behaving “without any remorse.”

It was an “okay” read. Would I recommend it to anyone else? No.

Thank you Patrick Lane and Thistle Publishing for the fresh release of this book.
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Patrick Lane, and Thistle Publishing. I was under no obligation to review it. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.

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