• The Ice Man

  • Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer
  • By: Philip Carlo
  • Narrated by: Michael Prichard
  • Length: 19 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (2,210 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski led a double life beyond anything ever seen on The Sopranos, becoming one of the most notorious professional assassins in American history while hosting neighborhood barbecues in suburban New Jersey. Now, after 240 hours of face-to-face interviews with Kuklinski and his wife and daughters, author Philip Carlo tells his extraordinary story.

Kuklinski was Sammy "The Bull" Gravano's partner in the killing of Paul Castellano at Spark's Steakhouse. John Gotti hired him to kill the neighbor who accidentally ran over his child. For an additional price, he would make victims suffer; he conducted this sadistic business with cold-hearted intensity, never disappointing his customers. By his own estimate, he killed over 200 men, taking enormous pride in his variety and ferocity of technique.

Kuklinski's story, once known, captivated the public and became the subject of three HBO documentaries about which the New York Times raved, "Few viewers are ever likely to forget this thoroughly chilling portrait. As for possible movie competition, it would work on the level of The Silence of the Lambs."

©2006 Philip Carlo (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Good as an omnibus resource on Kuklinski, this is a fine entry in the burgeoning field of works tracing the decline of the traditional organized crime families and their once impenetrable structures." (Booklist)

What listeners say about The Ice Man

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

You must buy this audio only if...

You enjoy an incredible true crime story and chilling psychological profile. Not for the squeamish. I couldn't stop listening. The narrator has just the right "news man" tone that fits this tale perfectly. Yes, the narrative is redundant at times. You notice how certain phrases are repeated, but they didn't annoy me. I first saw "The Ice Man" HBO documentary and was riveted. This man is both an attractive character and monsterous. This tension drives the tale as well as the "creative" way he devises his crime.It will make you feel vulnerable. You will shutter unless you don't have a conscience. I'm serious. This is the real deal.Decadence and black humor and moments that will make you cry. You'll be glad there are some heroes in this tale. At times I had problems keeping track of all of all the Mafiosi, but it doesn't matter. I plan on listening to this again. The bonus material is incredible. I kept thinking, "What was I doing in my life when all this was going on?" because I don't recall seeing it on the news. This is also a story about abuse-unrelenting abuse: the making of a sociopath. It is also a story about mercy. Just get it. Nothing fancy here - just a great story. I hear a movie is planned, but don't wait. The film will have a lot to live up to.

46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • PT
  • 12-20-06

Couldn't Put It Down

This one is a rough ride but it is a very good book. It is a descent into the worst kinds of evil and depravity of the human heart. Even so, the author manages to provide a certain kind of wry sympathy for his monstrous subject. If even half of Kuklinski's claims are true, he was a very tragic figure. By the way, this biography is the second to claim credit for killing Jimmy Hoffa ("I Hear You Paint Houses"). So I don't know which story to believe -- they can't both be true.

I found the writing very engaging. There were a few harmless repetitions. I thought the story was evenly paced over all. The narrator was quite good. (My benchmark for all-time worst is professional actor Elliott Gould reading my beloved Raymond Chandler.)

I found myself making excuses to listen to this book. More errands around town, walking the dog more and more, playing fetch with him in the backyard... this book was wearing out my dog.

The last book I read was about the BTK killer -- also from Audible. These stories are not for the fainthearted. But they are stories well told.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

THE "FORREST GUMP" OF TRUE CRIIME

I never write a review without checking my facts using other sources. But I won't here because the author didn't verify a single fact for this book! All he does is parrot the implausible ravings of a sociopath. Richard Kuklinski was a legend in his own mind. He took credit for just about every unsolved high-profile including Jimmy Hoffa and mob boss Paul Castellano, along with the neighbor who ran over John Gotti's young son. Ridiculous! After allegedly committing over 200 gruesome homicides, he'd never been arrested for so much as traffic ticket. NO ONE IS THAT GOOD! Either he's a criminal genius or the New Jersey PD is the Keystone Kops. This guy could have been arrested with a cap gun and tin badge. I saw the HBO documentary years ago and actually believed that Kuklinski was a cold-blooded killer. But, after this book, I see now that he likely made up all of his crimes, even the ones he was convicted of. The author's writing is that of a first-grader, simplistic and repetitive. No one independently confirms anything in this book. Richard is the one who says he a killer, a good-looking guy, a well-hung adept lover. No one else does. Anyone who's seen or read anything on the mob knows they would never hire an unknown Polish thug from NJ for major hits. Kuklinski claims to have done hundreds of contract murders, trafficked in weed and cocaine, laundered money overseas, killed Colombian drug dealers AND a cop yet he couldn't even afford an attorney for trial. Where was John Gotti's legal team? Wouldn't he want to protect himself after ordering the hit on Castellano? The only "hit" Kuklinski did was beat his wife for decades. When arrested, all he owned was .22 pistol. No assault weapons, no money, no bodies. Both the author and "The Iceman" are delusional. Save your money! Also read the reviews on Amazon.com.)

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Cliche-ridden fairy tale

This book is hilarious. Supposedly a true account of Richard Kuklinski's life, none of the subject matter is verified and simply taken as truth by the author. Furthermore, as others have stated, the editing is atrocious--the book is repetitous and full of cliches and trite phrases. The author tries to sensationalize everything to the point of non-belief.

The repetition of this book is unbelievable. You will the same ideas over and over and over and over and over and over again.

If I had the patience I would listen to the book again and count the number of cliches in this book. It's got to be in the hundreds.

I don't think this guy was connected to the mob--just a wannabe. Not too many specific details in this book, just vague generalizations. I don't doubt this guy is nuts and killed a few people but I think most of this is fantasy.

As far as the story goes, it's fairly interesting if you tolerate the repitition and the triteness.

I suggest you read some reviews on Amazon before you decide to invest a credit into this book.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Couldn't stop listening

I found this book fascinating. Much of it was a detailed, true account of dozens of the individual people that Richard Kuklinski killed. And yet I never found the writing repetitive. I couldn't stop listening. The subject matter is obviously dark and gruesome. But it's a rare glimpse into the life and mind of cold killer with no feelings of remorse.

The narrator did a very good job. At first I found him a little flat, but he grew on me.

I think some of the negative reviews that I’ve read online are reviewing the subject matter and Richard Kuklinski himself, who is obviously reprehensible, rather than the quality of the writing and the research, which I thought was excellent.

And the narrative really picks up speed in the last third, as the authorities get wind of Richard K. and make their efforts to capture and convict him.

P.S. The last hour or so of the book is an actual interview with Richard Kuklinski, which I found to be very flat. If you are interested in taped interviews and photos, I recommend, “Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman” available for rent on DVD.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good, fascinating, but terribly repetitive

I really enjoyed listening to this. It is a good reading by the narrator. Gripping description of this killer's life, personna, psyche. Provides, as an aside, a gloss over of modern NY/NJ mafia history. I would recommend it. You just better have a strong stomach. Some gruesome passages. Overall it makes me want to find and watch the HBO documentaries that are discussed at the end (i.e. wanting more).

BUT, the book's editor should be fired. I don't know how many times the writer repeated the same phrase or theme. We know, we get it ('it' could be one of 20 points that are seriously repeated 50x each)

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

i'm calling BS

i've seen all the iceman interviews on HBO - super fascinated by this guy, however this book...seriously!?

SPOILER
they have a scene where richard is describing torturing some guy who he thinks gave up info on where a truck of goods was stored. per the book he burned the guys foot until they saw bone - the tortured guy denies everything...then they move onto his testicles - they get destroyed STILL NOTHING but all of a sudden when they head towards his penis, then this guy gives it up?! i don't buy it for a second.

Anyhow - for me, this seemed like a complete exaggeration of his life and crimes.



9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Ridiculous fiction...

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

There are so many claims made in this book that are utterly laughable that i wont bother going into full detail. However, claims that "The Iceman" personally killed Jimmy Hoffa and was one of the shooters in the Paul Castellano hit are just 2 of the easily verifiable lies told in this fantasy. Despite the absurdities, this could have been enjoyable fiction if not for the insanley repetative and bland writing. There are much better and more interesting actual true crime books out there.

What could Philip Carlo have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Made at least a token effort to challenge or verify some of the claims made by his subject. Also avoid the constant repetition.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

To him prostitutes were like whores

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you enjoy poorly written books with a very small amount of material stretched into a book this is the one for you. The author clearly read the transcripts of various interviews and tried to fill a book buy repeating the same info over and over again. The same ideas are repeated several times in almost every chapter.

Has The Ice Man turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I love biographies especially criminal biographies but this one is terrible.

What does Michael Prichard bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Nothing really. It was a competent performance but nothing special.

What character would you cut from The Ice Man?

The author.

Any additional comments?

Interesting topic but poorly written.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

19 hours you wont you wont turn off or forget !!!

This book is incredible; Mr. Carlo has certainly grasped the essence of a serial killer and hit man.

I first heard about Richard Kuklinski in the late 90’s when he starred in two HBO specials, "Iceman Confesses" & "Iceman and the Psychiatrist". I was somewhat appalled but very intrigued. Since then he has been brought up in several documentaries on serial killers.

A few months back a late night radio show, Coast to Coast AM interviewed the author Phillip Carlo about his book (and soon to be audio book) The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, and I was sold.

The book was a surprise to me in many ways, I found extreme sadness in his childhood and extreme love in his fatherhood (for his own children). Oddly enough I found myself actually cheering Richard on! I know this sounds absurd but on occasion this cold-blooded killer did a few good deeds.

In one case he happened to run across two men raping a teenage boy in an alley, promptly he put an end to this and them, possibly saving the youths life. Richard ran across several cases of child abuse that he quickly stopped in his own way, as well as performed a few completely brutal “hits” on rapists and molesters.

The brutality in this man’s life was worse than most fiction; from the day he was born to the day he first killed he was abused. On that day he went from hunted to hunter, and hundreds paid.

This download is 19 hours you wont you wont turn off or forget !!!

7 people found this helpful