Omerta is a code of honour and silence in the face of questioning by outsiders and authorities. Crime organizations like the mafia that use the code of omerta have always been a source of curiosity for the public. We wonder who would join these groups and why, what exactly those clandestine activities look like, and how their families operate.
Inside the Montreal Mafia gives us that inside look. Authors Felix Seguin and Eric Thibault give us all the details and more from years of secret meetings with Andrew Scoppa, a high-ranking Mafioso.
Scoppa is quite the character, the Charon to the secret underworld of Montreal. He met with the two authors from 2014 to 2019 describing key relationships between other members of the mafia like who trusted who, the book which contained every bet that was made and whether it was made good on or not, until he was shot dead on October 21, 2019.
In all the real strength of the story is the character of Scoppa. He’s larger than life, trains every day and is precise with a specific code of honour. He’s called the Broom because he would force those who owed money to kneel on the hard shaft of a broom for hours with their hands behind their head before they relented and paid their debts.
Scoppa called the two authors on every birthday, and their kids’ birthdays and often used them as confidants while still pushing against the idea of making this a book project. Due to the stretch of reporting, it’s difficult to remember until you’re forcibly reminded, but these meetings and the reports of organized crime in the Montreal area were literally a risk to the authors’ lives. The way he seeped into their lives from work-related to personal is astounding. They even spent a week in Spain together, talking, eating meals and at one point even going on a tour.
Important to note about the book is that it’s not in chronological order so much as broken apart into themes which Scoppa spoke about at length. While it was an understandable tactic since his words were a veritable feast, it also weakens the story. There are already so many people as well as their activities and their families and deaths to keep straight, it translates the story into an inextricable mire of details. I remember reading this story carefully and still coming out the other side unsure of what happened other than that they killed the main character.
Something else to note is that many times, they supplemented the story with articles or case notes about the events discussed. While the case notes and wiretap transcriptions provide some levity and ease of conversation, the articles most definitely do not. They complicated the story more and made it more difficult to keep the cast of characters straight. At many points, I wished I had flashcards of every person mentioned with their backgrounds and pictures and reasons why they were important to whichever theme was being discussed.
While a laudable work of nonfiction, Inside the Montreal Mafia can be difficult to read and understand. Which is quite deserving, considering how difficult it was for the authors to discover the information in the first place.
About the Author
Born in Gaspésie, Eric Thibault has covered police and organized crime in Quebec since 1993. He has written for the Journal de Montréal since 2011.
Félix Séguin has covered multiple major national and international news stories since the early 2000s. He specializes in police investigations and organized crime. Inside the Montreal Mafia is the third collaboration between Eric Thibault and Félix Séguin, following Gallant: Confessions d’un tueur à gages and Le livre noir des Hells Angels. Séguin and Thibault are both members of the Québecor Investigative Bureau.
- Publisher : ECW Press (June 7 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1770416676
- ISBN-13 : 978-1770416673
Stephanie Sirois (they/them) is a writer, artist and journalist on unceded Wolastoqiyik territory. They spend their time reading, writing, making art and exhorting their family into playing board games with them.