Snatch Racket by James Smith

A great read! An educational read! Every case a page turner! And a step into the wild past! Crime, history, mystery and adventure combine in each of the tales in this fascinating picture of California crime culture as it was almost a century ago. The real-life criminal characters range from intellectuals to immature fools, and sometimes sociopaths. They execute their crime dramas against a backdrop of seat-of-the-pants police work and out-of-control newspapers hungry for headlines.


Kidnapping for ransom, the Snatch Racket, became a nefarious fad during the Prohibition and the Great Depression, the decades of 1920s and 30s. Smith and Rogers have done a masterful job of research, embedding these crime stories within a historical construct, which both sets the stage for the crime and concludes with its legal resolution. Each story has its own arc, building tension to its conclusion. In addition to recreating events in elaborate detail, the authors have captured the sensationalism that seduced journalists and fired up the populace. Yet, implicit within each story is the rule of law and the legal system that protects us, albeit with slow, ponderous steps. 


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