The Crescent City Lynchings
The Murder of Chief Hennessy, the New Orleans "Mafia" Trials, and the Parish Prison Mob
By Tom Smith
(Lyons Press, Hardcover, 9781592289011, 344pp.)
Publication Date: January 2007
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that rocked late-19th-century Louisiana. Smith's skill with dialogue lends a
real vividness to this account, and his evocation of the city is captivating. An engaging account that may well strike a chord with those who now think of
New Orleans as a city torn apart."
"In telling the story of Chief Hennessy's murder, Smith reveals the history that paved the way for Huey Long, Carlos Marcello, Edwin Edwards, and associates in Louisiana's piquant political culture. A rich, insightful slice of Americana."
From The Crescent City Lynchings:
Hennessy could see a figure across the street, a block distant, but paid him little mind. It looked like J. C. Roe, the Boylan security officer detailed to watch his house. Hennessy didn't care much about the added protection. He didn't need one of his men or friends to walk home with him every night. Sure he had enemies--any chief of police had more than a human share--but he was safe enough here. He knew most of his neighbors, at least by sight, and after all, remembering faces was part of his business.
He felt the bullets before he heard them. Cuts in his face and arm stung, as a deeper pain tossed him off balance and crackled along his ribs. Hennessy grabbed his Colt from his waistcoat. The walls of the buildings around him shuddered as he turned toward the flashes. Losing his breath, he hurried to the corner, firing back at the dark figures coming for him....
O'Connor looked down the dilapidated Basin Street sidewalk toward the center of the city. Hennessy sat alone on a doorstep, bleeding from his face, hands, andlegs. The left side of his coat was ripped into a dark red tangle and his Colt hung from his hand, the pearl grips smeared with blood. "They gave it to me, but I gave 'em back the best I could."
Tom Smith is a freelance reporter and writer who has contributed to Great American Trials, Great World Trials, and Sex, Sin & Mayhem: Notorious Trials of the 1990s.
"The anti-Italian lynchings of 1891 remain one of the most violent events in New Orleans' often violent history. In "The Crescent City Lynchings," Tom Smith offers the best treatment yet produced of the controversial trial that precipitated that event. "--The Times-Picayune "The Sopranos meets the Big Easy in an engrossing examination of a crime that rocked late-19th-century Louisiana. Smith's skill with dialogue lends a real vividness to this account, and his evocation of the city is captivating. An engaging account that may well strike a chord with those who now think of New Orleans as a city torn apart.”
Kirkus Reviews "Smith is able to bring a local and timely flavor to his otherwise straightforward account of Hennessy's life, the murder and its spiderweb of repercussions. The sensational nature of the case certainly lends itself to conspiracy theories, but Smith stays unbiased, allowing his readers to use the facts to come to their own conclusion."--Publishers Weekly "New Orleans has more myths than most cities, and still, the truth is sometimes more astounding than the myth. Smith dissects the notorious 1890 lynchings that introduced the term mafia to Americans....In telling the story of Chief Hennessy’s murder, Smith reveals the history that paved the way for Huey Long, Carlos Marcello, Edwin Edwards, and associates in Louisiana’s piquant political culture. A rich, insightful slice of Americana."--Booklist "Has all the rhythm and mystery of the Big Easy...It's a complex and engrossing century-old tale involving social problems that are still pervasive today, such as organized crime, racism, police incompetence and vigilante justice."--New Haven Advocate