‘Toronto’s First Gangland Killing’

‘Toronto’s First Gangland Killing’

Posted on January 18 by admin
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It started with the ruthless – and some say botched – killing of a bookie the police had been unable to charge with any crime, and it would mark the beginning of the rise and fall of one of Canada’s few gangland terrors. Donald McDonald, aka “Mickey.” Not unlike his nick-namesake Mickey Cohen, the real-life mob boss portrayed in the movie Gangster Squad, McDonald began his criminal career as an outsider and earned fearsome notoriety as a racketeer. Also like Cohen, McDonald was slippery enough that he seemed to be above the law, until his lucky mysteriously ran out and he simply vanished.

Equal parts Al Capone and Jimmy Hoffa (with a Canadian twist), Mickey kept Toronto’s attention riveted to his exploits. Peter McSherry’s book What Happened to Mickey? takes readers back to the days when decent citizens of Toronto the Good would reach for the smelling salts at the thought of illegal betting or bars staying open after 11:45pm, but McSherry delves into a far more vivid underworld of bootleggers on Church Street, and crooked cops stalking henchmen with names like Johnny “The Bug.”

Newspapers of the day, scrambling for the story, spun tales that McDonald’s crimes may have been perpetrated by “Italian gangsters,” but from the moment Mickey was hauled in for the murder of a bookie, there would be no mistaking him for anyone else. Police launched into a concerted effort to put him behind bars by hook or by crook, even (allegedly) engaging in witness-tampering, coercion, and rigged investigations.

I won’t spoil the ending, but McSherry does an incredible amount of sleuthwork to put together a gripping life (and death) story of one of Canada’s most shadowy criminal figures. Bursting at the seams with eyewitness accounts, mugshots, startling scenes and legal sensations, What Happened To Mickey will make a great read for anyone interested in True Crime – and the not-so-clean truth about Toronto the Good.