The historic roots of the True Crime genre can be seen in
publications like True Detective Magazine (1924-1995) and the
Notable British Trials book series (83 volumes, 1905-1959). The
publicity that accompanies True Crime stories makes such tales
especially popular with publishers.
A recent addition to the True Crime shelf is
Blood & Volume by Dave Copeland. The title of Copeland's book comes
from a request that two federal agents made when they were
interrogating the book's protagonist, Ronald Gonen. Gonen had just
been arrested in New York City for massive drug dealing and was
"spilling his guts" to the authorities in an attempt to avoid life
"We have to investigate everything you tell us
about, Ron," said one agent--"and frankly, you're telling us too
much! So please just give us blood and volume."
By "blood" the agents explain to Gonen, they mean
they want to hear what he knows about murders--not about more
mundane break-ins, assaults, fraud, or burglaries. And by "volume,"
the cops mean drug deals--but only really big ones! Don't burden us
with investigating smuggling and selling grams and ounces--we want
mega-pound and mega--kilo deals only, and big honking suitcases full
Blood & Volume - Dave Copeland
Reviewed by Tom Rodd
Who was this handsome fellow, sitting
handcuffed in a Manhattan interrogation room, telling the police the
story of his life and criminal career? Ron Gonen was born in Russia to a
small-town Jewish family who emigrated to Israel. In Tel Aviv, Gonen
began with petty theft and graduated to burglaries, robberies, and
dealing in stolen property. After his army service, he moved on to
international cocaine and heroin smuggling, and served several years in
prison in France and Germany. In the 1980s Gonen landed in New York
City, where he and a dozen other expatriate "Israeli Mafia" criminals
carried on in a grand gold-chain disco lifestyle--stealing, whoring,
doping, and robbing (a la Goodfellas) throughout the Five Boroughs.
When he was finally arrested by the feds, Gonen, with a young child and
an addict wife, faced decades in prison. He made a deal to inform
against his dealer/thief/murderer colleagues in return for a light
sentence and a new identity in the federal Witness Protection Program.
His information sent a dozen people to prison.
True to its title, Blood & Volume includes a goodly number of bodies (Gonen
denies killing anyone himself) and plenty of edgy international drug
deals involving hundreds of pounds of cocaine and heroin--not to mention
some multi-million-dollar jewel heists and even insurance fraud schemes.
The brutality, debauchery, and paranoia of Gonen's criminal lifestyle
has a special poignancy: Gonen stole cars to go back and forth to his
Israel army service. This amazing and bizarre story is told in a tight,
(Tom Rodd attended The Hotchkiss School in the early 1960s where he was
considered one of the most brilliant students ever enrolled. He later
was profiled in Esquire and was regarded by many as the first student
activist. Today, he remains a consumer rights advocate.)