- Title: Cradle of Crime
- Author: Luellen Smiley
- Print Length: 264
- Publication Date: November 19, 2016
- Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- Formats: Paperback, Kindle
- Genres: Memoir, True Crime, Non Fiction
We all have a past, and we know our parents had a life before us. But what if we come to realize that one of our parents had affiliations with the mob? That’s something hard to imagine, even if you are the daughter of Allen Smiley, a friend of the infamous Bugsy Siegel.
Luellen Smiley grew up in both admiration and fear of her father, Allen. He was an overly protective and a stern man with many, many secrets in his closet. She loved her father but didn’t know him. She feared her father but didn’t know the reason why. Ten years after the death of Allen Smiley, Luellen begins to unravel, feeling severe unease and anxiety about herself and her father until she finally breaks. While many would choose to try and ignore it and move on with their life, Luellen embarks on a quest to understand the reason for her pain. She takes to government surveillance records, newspaper articles, court testimony, classified FBI documents, interviews and conversations with relatives in order to learn all she could possibly know about her father and about her heritage.
I found some of the scenes to be very short and sometimes confusing, so I needed to reread. I could think of a few ways to rewrite it in order to make the tale flow more smoothly, but it’s possible Luellen had her reasoning, unbeknownst to me of why she kept the scenes so brief. The dialogue was engaging, and she’d obviously done her research in bringing the past back to life. She wrote the prose in a way that made you want to turn the next page and find out what happened next. Who was this guy, Allen Smiley? How could he manage to keep all these dark secrets?
My main issue is the reason the story is a four star and not a five (actually, I’d give 3.5 stars for this, but only full stars are allowed, and the story is too intriguing for a measly three). Throughout the prose, there were so many grammatical and punctuation errors as though it hadn’t been edited after written. If I didn’t care to learn about what it was like to be brought up unknowingly in a mobster world, I’d have set it down. However, that wasn’t the case. The story had me too intrigued and I wanted to meet the ending.
If you enjoy all types of gangster-related stories, particularly the true ones, I’d highly recommend Cradle of Crime.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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About the Author
Luellen Smiley was the daughter of Allen Smiley—Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s best friend and business partner. Her upbringing within the Mafia family breaks through a long-standing stigma about the organization and its members. She wants the world to know that they started as defenders of their neighborhoods—not trigger-happy murderers.
Ten years after her father’s death, she evolved into a gangster authority through researching thousands of classified FBI and Department of Justice documents and interviews and conversations with relatives, ex–mob guys, and authors.
Luellen is an award-winning newspaper columnist who has written for publications such as the NY Post and MORE Magazine.