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The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer | [Philip Carlo]

The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer

Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski led a double life beyond anything ever seen on The Sopranos, becoming one of the most notorious professional assassins in American history while hosting neighborhood barbecues in suburban New Jersey. Now, after 240 hours of face-to-face interviews with Kuklinski and his wife and daughters, author Philip Carlo tells his extraordinary story.
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Publisher's Summary

Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski led a double life beyond anything ever seen on The Sopranos, becoming one of the most notorious professional assassins in American history while hosting neighborhood barbecues in suburban New Jersey. Now, after 240 hours of face-to-face interviews with Kuklinski and his wife and daughters, author Philip Carlo tells his extraordinary story.

Kuklinski was Sammy "The Bull" Gravano's partner in the killing of Paul Castellano at Spark's Steakhouse. John Gotti hired him to kill the neighbor who accidentally ran over his child. For an additional price, he would make victims suffer; he conducted this sadistic business with cold-hearted intensity, never disappointing his customers. By his own estimate, he killed over 200 men, taking enormous pride in his variety and ferocity of technique.

Kuklinski's story, once known, captivated the public and became the subject of three HBO documentaries about which the New York Times raved, "Few viewers are ever likely to forget this thoroughly chilling portrait. As for possible movie competition, it would work on the level of The Silence of the Lambs."

©2006 Philip Carlo; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Good as an omnibus resource on Kuklinski, this is a fine entry in the burgeoning field of works tracing the decline of the traditional organized crime families and their once impenetrable structures." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1144 )
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4.3 (553 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Alicia Czechowski Baltimore Maryland 05-30-14
    Alicia Czechowski Baltimore Maryland 05-30-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't we all "compartmentalize"?"

    Richard Kuklinski represents an extreme case of the ability to compartmentalize. It's the way we all instinctively protect our reason, justify our actions, hide our real intentions, and bolster our amour propre.
    I found this story fascinating in the way it juxtaposes our ideas of what constitutes conventional behavior with the life led by a career killer. Considering Kuklinski's terrible childhood, it is remarkable that he ended up leading such a "normal" life.
    Philip Carlo's does an excellent job of reporting Kuklinski's story with the minimum of editorializing or moralizing. He is not the typical criminal biographer writer who equivocates by hauling out the "evil" formula while delectating yet another grisly morsel. Carlo presents a factual and non-hypocritical story of one man's long-lived career as a delectatehired killer, conducted for decades, under the radar.
    Sucking on horror is the great American past-time, but The Ice Man is much more than a feast for the horror junky, it is an odyssey into the extraordinary parallel world of organized crime.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 06-16-11
    Mark 06-16-11 Member Since 2013
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    "Great story -- no critical analysis"

    No doubt, the story is fascinating. If you are looking for a mafia novel to read, this will be 10 times better. But, sadly, Carlo offers almost no critical analysis of the stories he is told from Kuklinski. Even if you have no external information about the events, there are major internal inconsistencies in the story as told. I'm not saying Carlo needs to resolve them, but his lack of even acknowledging the inconsistencies significantly challenges the work's credibility. Further, Carlo doesn't even make an effort at acknowledging the many versions of these events told by other people which are quite different. It would be fine for Carlo to attempt to argue that other versions are wrong and this is a more accurate portrayal, but to not even acknowledge that other people claim these events happened differently is a major flaw.

    After the book ends, there is an audio recording of some interviews with Kuklinski. This is a great add-on because, by the time you get to the end, you are fascinated with this guy and want to understand him better. But, even in these short interviews, Kuklinski himself contradicts things that he said to Carlo in interviews reported in the book. I don't even care so much which version, if any, is correct, but I felt that it was a great loss to not explore what it meant that Kuklinski was telling contradictory versions of events to the author.

    This book is worth the credit and time to listen if you are interested in some good crime stories, but it leaves way too many open questions to provide a helpful insight into either Kuklinski himself or the mafia generally.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn 04-11-11
    Lynn 04-11-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski"

    In this volume, Philip Carol tells us more about Richard Kuklinski - a serial killer for the mob. This is a very entertaining book and, perhaps, will engage individuals tangentially interested in "true crime." After the first few chapters, Carlo's reporting became somewhat repetitive. How many times can he describe Kuklinkski's alledged mistreatment of his wife for example? How often can he tell the reader that Kuklinski was jealous of his son? I hoped for more insight into how a mob hit man thinks. On the other hand, this was a listen that reallly makes a long drive pass more quickly. There are surprises on every page. The narration of Micahel Prichard is excellent. If you are looking for insight, you might be disappointed. If you are interested in being entertained, this audio book just might do it for you.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ramona hampton, GA, United States 11-28-10
    Ramona hampton, GA, United States 11-28-10 Member Since 2008
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    "I liked it"

    Yes, it was repetative, but entertaining. It held my attention. If you miss something the first time, don't worry, you will hear it the 2nd or 3rd time it is repeated!!!! LOL. The editing really sucks, its like 4 people wrotes different sections and combined them.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 01-10-11
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 01-10-11 Member Since 2012

    I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A sociopath's fantasy"

    A tad far-fetched. Not sure how we're supposed to believe this is true... there's no proof offered for any of it and it sounds just like a sociopath's fantasy... so that's probably what it is...

    I'm sure Richard was a bad guy, but don't go trying to tell me he murdered 50 street people in the mid-fifties and nobody noticed? yeah, uh-huh... sure... he definitely fantasized about all that... but actually doing it? Nah, that's probably more on the fiction side...

    This is supposed to be a biography, so even if you accept all the "facts" without any evidence you'll still be wondering why on earth the author felt it important to mention what Richard ate for Christmas dinner (no, seriously, he listed all the food items served at dinner, several times... like it's significant? I don't think it's realistic in an biography to itemize what anyone ate 30 years before.)

    Sigh... all that being said, it's quite an interesting, albeit unbelievable, look at what a serial killer might be like. Treat it like fiction and it's quite entertaining, treat it like truth and you'll have to be very good at suspending disbelief.

    I'd have given it 4 stars (as a fictional story) if it had been better edited - I really didn't need to be reminded every chapter that Richard had a bad temper, or that he knew how to use poisons, etc... tell me stuff once or twice throughout the book, fine... but after the 8th time, it is a bit much.

    As a little insight into mob goings-on, it is kind of interesting... is it true? No idea.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 10-11-06
    Mark 10-11-06
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    "Disappointed"

    The author took what could be an interesting story and tortured it to death. The book is 19 hours long and much of the material is repeated throughout. The dialog between characters is amateurish and sounds as if Kuklinski wrote it himself. Many of the deeds he claims happened are hard to believe. Sorry for the spoiler, but ripping a car door off it's hinges with his bare hands is just one example. Most of it sounds like the school yard bully or high school football hero reliving his glory days, exaggerating his feats and bolstering his own ego. The narrator tries to get the voices and inflections down, but I thought he only added to the amateurish sound of the book. He'd be better off reading the evening news then narrating a novel. I made it halfway through the second part and started looking for another book to download.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 12-09-09
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 12-09-09 Member Since 2014

    Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "THE "FORREST GUMP" OF TRUE CRIIME"

    I never write a review without checking my facts using other sources. But I won't here because the author didn't verify a single fact for this book! All he does is parrot the implausible ravings of a sociopath. Richard Kuklinski was a legend in his own mind. He took credit for just about every unsolved high-profile including Jimmy Hoffa and mob boss Paul Castellano, along with the neighbor who ran over John Gotti's young son. Ridiculous! After allegedly committing over 200 gruesome homicides, he'd never been arrested for so much as traffic ticket. NO ONE IS THAT GOOD! Either he's a criminal genius or the New Jersey PD is the Keystone Kops. This guy could have been arrested with a cap gun and tin badge. I saw the HBO documentary years ago and actually believed that Kuklinski was a cold-blooded killer. But, after this book, I see now that he likely made up all of his crimes, even the ones he was convicted of. The author's writing is that of a first-grader, simplistic and repetitive. No one independently confirms anything in this book. Richard is the one who says he a killer, a good-looking guy, a well-hung adept lover. No one else does. Anyone who's seen or read anything on the mob knows they would never hire an unknown Polish thug from NJ for major hits. Kuklinski claims to have done hundreds of contract murders, trafficked in weed and cocaine, laundered money overseas, killed Colombian drug dealers AND a cop yet he couldn't even afford an attorney for trial. Where was John Gotti's legal team? Wouldn't he want to protect himself after ordering the hit on Castellano? The only "hit" Kuklinski did was beat his wife for decades. When arrested, all he owned was .22 pistol. No assault weapons, no money, no bodies. Both the author and "The Iceman" are delusional. Save your money! Also read the reviews on Amazon.com.)

    12 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Denver, CO, United States 08-07-13
    Thomas Denver, CO, United States 08-07-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Total bullshit"
    Would you try another book from Philip Carlo and/or Michael Prichard?

    Maybe. Read "The Butcher," from Philip Carlo but after reading this book, I am wondering how much of that is true.


    Any additional comments?

    The book is mostly fiction. The thing about sociopaths is that they are rarely murderers (and Kuklinski is a murder) but they are ALL liars. Kuklinski made up grandiose lies to make himself out to be the greatest psychotic killer of all time and Carlo wrote all that up like it was true. I was tipped off when Kuklinski said that he rescued a group of children from a serial child abductor - I looked online to see what happened to the children that were rescued and found nothing but a lot of people saying that Kuklinsky made the whole thing up. It rings true though. The books reads like a grandiose liar telling everyone how great he is.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kitty Reno, NV 02-06-13
    Kitty Reno, NV 02-06-13 Member Since 2014

    I listen to books to be entertained... my favorite genre is a "Legal Thriller" I have actually been a member since 2001. Love my books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not for the squeamish!"

    I bought this book based on favorable reviews. I must say that I was fascinated by this true story. If this book were a fiction novel, I would think that the author was reaching too far to shock the reader with wild and unbelievable stories about a serial killer. I have only occasionally purchased true crime, because I find them boring. This book was well done and I am glad that I purchased it. You won't be sorry to spend your credit on this fascinating book.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Reston, Virginia 05-23-11
    Jean Reston, Virginia 05-23-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I don't get these rave reviews..."

    I just finished part 1, and that's it for me. There are so many things wrong with this book, I hardly know where to begin. The writing is extremely clunky, and the author never met a cliche he didn't embrace. "Dead as a doorknob," "ugly as sin," so many more. And so many parts are mind-numbing laundry lists of people he killed. And repetitive. How many times does he have to tell us that Kuklinski hated his mother and thought she was a slut? But the most offensive thing to me is that the author doesn't give corroborating evidence to a single one of the murders. He was the hit man that the mafia hired to kill Paul Castellano? Really? Even though he wasn't Italian and therefore couldn't join the Mafia? Unbelievable!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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