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Sunday Reading: The World of Patrick Radden Keefe

Once a week or so, Patrick Radden Keefe walks into my office at The New Yorker with an anticipatory smile that I have come to think of as editor’s dopamine. It means that he’s got a killer new story to share. The story might come from a source at the D.E.A., or it might come from a pile of yellowed papers in an archive. Fortunately for readers, Keefe’s skills as a raconteur translate into diabolically seductive prose. Over the past decade, he’s published one corker after another, from his cinematic account of El Chapo’s serial escapes to his acid indictment of the Sackler family’s connection to the opioid crisis. Keefe has a law degree, and he would have made a fearsome D.A. More than once, he’s cracked cases that have long eluded law-enforcement officials. His delicate but merciless story “A Loaded Gun,” about the mass shooter Amy Bishop, lays bare earlier acts of violence that were covered up. And his wrenching new book, “Say Nothing,” extends the achievement of the 2015 article “Where the Bodies Are Buried,” about I.R.A. atrocities, by solving one of the group’s most notorious crimes—the murder of a Belfast mother of ten. Before you click below, I should note that it requires determined effort to stop reading a Keefe story. Let this opening sentence, from his feature “Crime Family,” serve as fair warning: “Astrid Holleeder has arresting eyes—they are swimming-pool blue—but that’s all I can reveal about her appearance, because she is in hiding, an exile in her own city, which is Amsterdam.”

Daniel Zalewski, features director


Crime Family

“Before every court date, Astrid Holleeder forms a game plan for her testimony, then thinks about how her brother Wim might react to each move she makes.”


Empire of Pain

“The bulk of the Sacklers’ fortune has been accumulated only in recent decades, yet the source of their wealth is to most people as obscure as that of the robber barons.”


Winning

“Like Donald Trump, the TV producer Mark Burnett seemed to have both a jaundiced impression of the gullible essence of the American people and a brazen enthusiasm for how to exploit it.”


The Hunt for El Chapo

“Joaquín Guzmán Loera has been characterized by the U.S. Treasury Department as ‘the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,’ and after the killing of Osama bin Laden, he became perhaps the most wanted fugitive on the planet.”


A Loaded Gun

“Amy Bishop’s case was notable in that she did not fit the profile of a mass shooter: women very rarely commit such killings.”


Buried Secrets

“Beny Steinmetz, who made his name in the diamond trade, hardly ever speaks to the press, and the corporate structures of his various enterprises are so convoluted that it is difficult to assess the extent of his holdings.”

ViaNewYorker