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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.

Critic Reviews

"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

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  • Overall
  • Eileen C
  • Bowling Green, OH, USA
  • 08-15-09

You must buy this audio only if...

You enjoy an incredible true crime story and chilling psychological profile. Not for the squeamish. I couldn't stop listening. The narrator has just the right "news man" tone that fits this tale perfectly. Yes, the narrative is redundant at times. You notice how certain phrases are repeated, but they didn't annoy me. I first saw "The Ice Man" HBO documentary and was riveted. This man is both an attractive character and monsterous. This tension drives the tale as well as the "creative" way he devises his crime.It will make you feel vulnerable. You will shutter unless you don't have a conscience. I'm serious. This is the real deal.Decadence and black humor and moments that will make you cry. You'll be glad there are some heroes in this tale. At times I had problems keeping track of all of all the Mafiosi, but it doesn't matter. I plan on listening to this again. The bonus material is incredible. I kept thinking, "What was I doing in my life when all this was going on?" because I don't recall seeing it on the news. This is also a story about abuse-unrelenting abuse: the making of a sociopath. It is also a story about mercy. Just get it. Nothing fancy here - just a great story. I hear a movie is planned, but don't wait. The film will have a lot to live up to.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • PT
  • PA
  • 12-20-06

Couldn't Put It Down

This one is a rough ride but it is a very good book. It is a descent into the worst kinds of evil and depravity of the human heart. Even so, the author manages to provide a certain kind of wry sympathy for his monstrous subject. If even half of Kuklinski's claims are true, he was a very tragic figure. By the way, this biography is the second to claim credit for killing Jimmy Hoffa ("I Hear You Paint Houses"). So I don't know which story to believe -- they can't both be true.

I found the writing very engaging. There were a few harmless repetitions. I thought the story was evenly paced over all. The narrator was quite good. (My benchmark for all-time worst is professional actor Elliott Gould reading my beloved Raymond Chandler.)

I found myself making excuses to listen to this book. More errands around town, walking the dog more and more, playing fetch with him in the backyard... this book was wearing out my dog.

The last book I read was about the BTK killer -- also from Audible. These stories are not for the fainthearted. But they are stories well told.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ronald
  • Encino, CA, USA
  • 10-14-06

Couldn't stop listening

I found this book fascinating. Much of it was a detailed, true account of dozens of the individual people that Richard Kuklinski killed. And yet I never found the writing repetitive. I couldn't stop listening. The subject matter is obviously dark and gruesome. But it's a rare glimpse into the life and mind of cold killer with no feelings of remorse.

The narrator did a very good job. At first I found him a little flat, but he grew on me.

I think some of the negative reviews that I’ve read online are reviewing the subject matter and Richard Kuklinski himself, who is obviously reprehensible, rather than the quality of the writing and the research, which I thought was excellent.

And the narrative really picks up speed in the last third, as the authorities get wind of Richard K. and make their efforts to capture and convict him.

P.S. The last hour or so of the book is an actual interview with Richard Kuklinski, which I found to be very flat. If you are interested in taped interviews and photos, I recommend, “Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman” available for rent on DVD.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

19 hours you wont you wont turn off or forget !!!

This book is incredible; Mr. Carlo has certainly grasped the essence of a serial killer and hit man.

I first heard about Richard Kuklinski in the late 90’s when he starred in two HBO specials, "Iceman Confesses" & "Iceman and the Psychiatrist". I was somewhat appalled but very intrigued. Since then he has been brought up in several documentaries on serial killers.

A few months back a late night radio show, Coast to Coast AM interviewed the author Phillip Carlo about his book (and soon to be audio book) The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, and I was sold.

The book was a surprise to me in many ways, I found extreme sadness in his childhood and extreme love in his fatherhood (for his own children). Oddly enough I found myself actually cheering Richard on! I know this sounds absurd but on occasion this cold-blooded killer did a few good deeds.

In one case he happened to run across two men raping a teenage boy in an alley, promptly he put an end to this and them, possibly saving the youths life. Richard ran across several cases of child abuse that he quickly stopped in his own way, as well as performed a few completely brutal “hits” on rapists and molesters.

The brutality in this man’s life was worse than most fiction; from the day he was born to the day he first killed he was abused. On that day he went from hunted to hunter, and hundreds paid.

This download is 19 hours you wont you wont turn off or forget !!!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good, fascinating, but terribly repetitive

I really enjoyed listening to this. It is a good reading by the narrator. Gripping description of this killer's life, personna, psyche. Provides, as an aside, a gloss over of modern NY/NJ mafia history. I would recommend it. You just better have a strong stomach. Some gruesome passages. Overall it makes me want to find and watch the HBO documentaries that are discussed at the end (i.e. wanting more).

BUT, the book's editor should be fired. I don't know how many times the writer repeated the same phrase or theme. We know, we get it ('it' could be one of 20 points that are seriously repeated 50x each)

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Ridiculous fiction...

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

There are so many claims made in this book that are utterly laughable that i wont bother going into full detail. However, claims that "The Iceman" personally killed Jimmy Hoffa and was one of the shooters in the Paul Castellano hit are just 2 of the easily verifiable lies told in this fantasy. Despite the absurdities, this could have been enjoyable fiction if not for the insanley repetative and bland writing. There are much better and more interesting actual true crime books out there.

What could Philip Carlo have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Made at least a token effort to challenge or verify some of the claims made by his subject. Also avoid the constant repetition.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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To him prostitutes were like whores

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you enjoy poorly written books with a very small amount of material stretched into a book this is the one for you. The author clearly read the transcripts of various interviews and tried to fill a book buy repeating the same info over and over again. The same ideas are repeated several times in almost every chapter.

Has The Ice Man turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I love biographies especially criminal biographies but this one is terrible.

What does Michael Prichard bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Nothing really. It was a competent performance but nothing special.

What character would you cut from The Ice Man?

The author.

Any additional comments?

Interesting topic but poorly written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Narrater did a good job but he sounded like he was suffering from asthma so it was often distracting other than that he was good. Book was great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful