Book Reviews

The G-Man and the Diamond King

I have been researching Klein and Barrett for 40 years. George Barrett was like a brother to my grandfather, and I sat at my grandfather's feet as a child, listening to the first-hand story of George's life, then when my grandfather died researching George's life in earnest. I can tell you William Plunkett gets it right and, wow, can the man write. The book should come with a seat belt! Plunkett uncovered all of the material I have and then some. One of his greatest discoveries was George Barrett's Bureau of Investigation file at the National Archives, a hefty file the FBI believed it had destroyed in 1997. George Barrett never made it to the Bureau's Most Wanted list only because Special Agent Klein shot and crippled him during the last moments of his own life. Barrett was apprehended at the scene and tried for the murder of SA Klein. If convicted, he would become the first person in US history executed for the slaying of a Bureau of Investigation agent. Purchase the book and learn about a curiously unknown event in the history of the FBI.

Steve Barrett
An excellent read as Mr. Plunkett walks us through the crime and social make-up of the gangland era of the 1930s. He effectively weaves anecdotal and very interesting pieces of history into the killing of FBI agent Nelson B. Klein by car thief and career criminal George Barrett. Throughout the story are peeks behind the scenes of how the fledgling Bureau of Investigation transformed itself into the FBI along with some of the Bureau's internal workings. It may be more than ironic, that perhaps for the first time in law-enforcement history, an officer was killed in one state yet the fatal shot, fired from a mere twenty-two feet away, placed the killer in another state. Agent Klein was shot in Ohio, but Barrett was prosecuted, convicted and executed in Indiana. The only reason "The G-Man" didn't get five-stars was because it was such a compelling, well-told story, that it left the reader wanting to learn more.

Former FBI SA Edward P. Woods (Served 1972-2001)

The G-Men and the Nurse

William E. Plunkett, has taken a really cold case and crafted it into an attention holding tale. “The G-Men and the Nurse” is a ‘true crime’ story. A fast read, it is also a bit of history. The true crime and cold case – very cold indeed at a 90 year remove – involves the death of a young, beautiful, fun-loving nurse, in Washington, DC. Told against the backdrop of the “roaring twenties” with the corrupt police, speakeasies, and flapper-glamour that was then. The history is the back story; the evolution of law enforcement in general, and the FBI in particular, to become modernized and professional.

Former FBI SA Thomas J. Baker (Served 1967-1999)

The death of an attractive young nurse in Washington D.C. in the late 1920s stirred almost national attention in the days when people got their news almost exclusively from a slew of rival newspapers that redoubled their competition with notoriety involving sex and crime. Aside from reliance on any sort of unsubstantiated rumor this was an instance where the case was literally tried in the press. In the days long before someone’s movements could be tracked by cell phone to within a few feet, it took instead, lots of gumshoe work, pounding the streets, hand searching countless records, interviewing scores of potential witnesses to determine exactly what happened to the young woman. Accusations that the D.C. Metropolitan Police were at best casual and at worst totally incompetent in their initial investigation, and since D.C. also came under federal authority, in stepped the fledgling FBI and J. Edgar Hoover. The author takes us through what turned out to be a massive investigation for this single death and through ‘gray pages’ (vignettes and snippets) provides a backdrop of the times, some relevant history and interesting details of the many personalities and ‘colorful characters’ involved. The Nurse is an enjoyable read that also provides some persuasive prose: “The funeral home had originally been a furniture store, and coffins had been added as perhaps the last item of furniture a person might need.” Highly recommend Mr. Plunkett’s second book.

Former FBI SA Edward P. Woods (Served 1972-2001)

The G-Men and the Heiress

William E. Plunkett's latest book recreates a time and place in American crime that seems almost glamorous. With a wealthy heiress and a kidnapper with Hollywood-good looks, "The G-Men and the Heiress" has Netflix or Amazon movie written all over it!

Tom Connor, son of FBI SA Thomas J. Connor (Served 1931-1935)
William Plunket does another excellent job telling readers about crime in the days of running boards and Tommy guns. He has a talent of not only sharing with us details about the kidnapping but also placing the reader in the times when these crimes happened and the other social and cultural events of the day. A great read.

Former FBI SA Edward P. Woods (1972-2001)
The third book of Plunkett's excellent true crime series, and possibly the best. Plunkett's time traveling trilogy explores the foundation of Hoover's Bureau of Investigation as it was being rebranded as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Intriguing kidnapping story during the "Kidnapping Era," sparked by the publicity of the Lindbergh Kidnapping, this work gives contextual insight to the importance of the evolving FBI's ability to solve crimes where investigation had previously been constrained by state boundaries. The story is rich in content that will satiate die hard true crime readers with well researched character development, and enriched with the absorbing development of the sense of the "era" - leaving the reader with the sense of being present for this 1930's drama. A work demonstrating the author is a seasoned professional investigator devoted to details. I recommend Plunkett's three book series as requisite reading for any serious student of crime and law enforcement. I believe G-men and the Heiress is perfect for a Netflix Series, as a two hour movie could not do it justice.

Jerry Spradlin
To purchase a signed copy of "The G-Men and the Nurse" or "G-Men and the Heiress"
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