The Snakehead. Below is a small excerpt from a review. Click here to read an interview with the author.
NEW YORK (CBS) Patrick Radden Keefe’s THE SNAKEHEAD: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream, is a true crime thriller about the rise and fall of an unlikely international crime boss, steeped in the American immigrant saga.
When the Golden Venture ran aground off a New York City beach in 1993 transporting 300 near-starving illegal immigrants, federal officials and the NYPD realized they had a huge criminal operation to unravel. Little did they know it would all lead back to an unassuming middle-aged grandmother known as Sister Ping, running an underground smuggling empire out of her hole-in-the-wall Chinatown noodle shop.
She built a complex -- and often vicious -- global conglomerate, relying heavily on familial ties, and employing one of Chinatown's most violent gangs to protect her power and profits, which grew to $40 million. Sister Ping’s ingenuity and drive were awe-inspiring not only to the Chinatown community -- where she was revered as a homegrown Don Corleone -- but also to the law enforcement officials who could never quite catch her.
It took the FBI and New York’s fabled “Jade Squad” nearly ten years to untangle the smuggling enterprise and hone in on its unusual and elusive mastermind, a charismatic criminal genius who exploited the enduring promise of the American dream with breathtaking sophistication.