“Anything I know of the toecutting business I owe to the criminal memoirs of Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read. Mr. Read is a great deal scarier than Blackwell, and has even fewer ears,” William Gibson writes, acknowledging the real-life model for a character in his novel, Idoru. Read’s three autobiographies have all been best-sellers in his native Australia. The moment you read the opening sentence of this, his first, you know you’re in the hands of a master. “I have been shot once, stabbed seven times, had a claw hammer stuck in my skull, been run over, beaten unconscious and left for dead.” Read relates in can’t-put-it-down style (and with considerable panache) the highs and lows of life as a toecutter—basically, an Australian term for a hit man who targets, robs and kills other hit men. There are some Down Under who doubt that Read actually did everything he claims to have done, whether with blowtorch, hatchet or razor, but it’s obvious he hung out for a long time with all the wrong people; and there’s no denying he has a flair for narrative, and for an unerring turn of phrase: “For him, it was too late. The spade was in his brain. Let’s say, for me it was a bit of a character builder.” Indeed! Read’s book also contains considerable handy information, such as why the human foot sizzles when it cooks.
Publisher: Sly Ink
Paperback: 212 pages