...thoughtful, deftly written ... Ratliff recognizes that Le Roux, despite his over-the-top heinousness, is at base an uninteresting figure. He focuses instead on the workings of his empire ... a fascinating chronicle, especially when Ratliff turns to the many ways poor nations serve as spillways for the dark excesses of rich ones ... penetrating—and more interesting [than Shannon's book Hunting Le Roux] ... Ratliff has produced a sharp and critical examination of the entirety of the case.
...[a] possessed true-crime investigation ... Ratliff’s journey is not just one of miles logged on the ground, but of incomparable oddness ... One of the pleasures of The Mastermind is the way in which the story effortlessly toggles between the mundane and the macabre ... haunting ... aside from the other triumphs of The Mastermind, Ratliff clearly deserves this year’s Award for Dogged Journalism for staying on his target until the very end. Without spoiling his story, the end arrives with yet another twist ... Ratliff’s efforts fail only when he tries to lash his story to sweeping themes ... Ratliff’s tale is unique, so strange and so compelling.
...[a] startling new book ... Ratliff is both astounded at and appalled by Le Roux’s entrepreneurial reach and ambition. The scale of his empire was impressive ... a fine example of resolute investigative journalism ... Ratliff tried multiple times to interview [Le Roux], but his lawyers never responded to the requests. Nonetheless, Ratliff manages to tell a compelling story with skill, style, and tenacity, traveling the globe to understand how one man could evade capture for so long.
...darkly fascinating and truly gripping ... With such a crazy story, it might have been tempting for the writer to amplify [Le Roux] oddness, to play it for laughs. Instead, Ratliff reports exhaustively and writes soberly, all the while remaining conscious of the ludicrousness of the reality he’s recounting. It’s a brilliant book, one that makes Le Roux’s life and career seem a suitably wild parable for a digitally deranged age.
The Mastermind is a tour de force of shoe-leather reporting — undertaken, amid threats and menacing, at considerable personal risk. Ratliff’s reportage unfolds in crisp, atmospheric prose, and he brings a dispassionate eye to a milieu lousy with unreliable narrators, triangulating where possible to separate fact from legend.
The Mastermind is true crime at its most stark and vivid depiction. Evan Ratliff’s work is well done from beginning to end, paralleling his investigative work with the work of the many federal agents developing the case against LeRoux. The narrative is spun in ways that can leave the reader dizzy but never lost. A great book for 2019 & beyond.
Sifting through detail after nefarious detail, Ratliff serves up a taut narrative that limns a portrait of a sociopath whose powers were most definitely used to evil ends. A wholly engrossing story that joins the worlds of El Chapo and Edward Snowden; both disturbing and memorable.
[Ratliff] makes the most of the stranger-than-fiction story of Paul Le Roux ... Ratliff makes the complex story accessible ... Ratliff’s dogged investigation, which included interviews with multiple co-conspirators of Le Roux’s, has yielded a true crime classic.