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Ben Starling

I'm passionate about books, marine conservation and boxing. I love anything book, but especially contemporary, adventure, mystery, thriller and of course, a good love story.

Recollections of a Racketeer: Smuggling Hash and Cash Around the World

Recollections of a Racketeer: Smuggling Hash and Cash Around the World - Patrick Lane, Howard Marks Recollections of a Racketeer landed on my "to read" pile thanks to Marcus Scriven, (who I see is mentioned in the acknowledgements section). As a gifted writer, I take Scriven's recommendations seriously and having read Recollections, I see why he encouraged the author - who became Howard Mark's brother-in-law and "partner" - to share his experiences with us. The worlds of hash smuggling and money laundering are alien to me but the book opens a door and I'm pleased I stepped inside. If good writing is about broadening horizons, challenging mindsets and vicariously sharing experiences then Recollections scores highly in all three areas.

It's also well written and amusing: I loved the way the ex-US marines, who were hired as muscle, were easily persuaded (courtesy of the Bronx-Gorbals language barrier) that they were in Norway when in fact they were in Scotland. Hilarious! The book's also honest and sympathetic (the author explains his deep respect for the police) while avoiding the twin traps of self-justification and sentimentality. For reasons elegantly presented, Lane was drawn to a lifestyle that mixed excitement with rebellion and you can understand why. We've never met but I soon found myself liking him.

Recollections describes a very different world. A sort of half-way house between Robin Hood and CSI and it's a charming world for that. It's full of clever psychological insights too, like allowing the custom's official a minor victory and he'll be so pleased he won't go through your luggage... and other gems that have relevance for all of us.

A thoughtful, excellent read - I recommend it.