Crime Lords, Merlin Publishing (2003), 326 pages
Crime Wars, Merlin Publishing (2008), 403 pages
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Crime Lords and Crime Wars are two books by the Irish Sun’s crime correspondent Paul Williams. Williams’ books are fascinating insights into the ultra violent world of Ireland’s criminal gangs. Williams clearly has a strong dislike of republican groups such as the INLA and the IRA, and makes a strong case linking many of their members to criminal activity. He shows the hypocrisy of the INLA claiming to be anti-drugs activists whilst actually being up to their necks in drug dealing. His chapter on “The Ballymount Bloodbath” is particularly illuminating in this regard. Williams is also good at portraying the psychopathic personalities involved in gangland crime. Most of his main characters are either dead or in jail (or in the case of Martin Foley he is still being pursued for unpaid taxes).
Williams books illustrate the vital importance that the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has played in making life in Ireland difficult for many of the country’s leading criminals. Spain and Amsterdam have become havens for Irish criminals trying to evade CAB’s clutches. For those that say that gangland crime shouldn’t concern ordinary people so long as the criminals stick to shooting themselves Williams demonstrates that gangland crime overspills into normal society with deadly consequences. The murders of Anthony Campbell and Baiba Saulite show that gangland crime can affect anyone in society. The lower down drug dealers and users are seen as expendable, they can be killed as a warning to those higher up the scale, with their deaths having consequences for their innocent families.
Paul Williams’ style is of the tabloid variety, heavy on colourful descriptions with little room for analysis. Williams has also been criticised for glamourising criminals by providing some of them with their distinctive nicknames (although this need for nicknames can be explained by having to avoid being sued for libel). Williams’ lives under police protection and will probably do so for the rest of his life. Crime Lords and Crime Wars are easy to read but hard to stomach books on Ireland’s most violent criminals.