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Rampage 1982 by B.D. Renard & John Nolan

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Rampage 1982 tells the shockingly true story of a New York diner that became the site of one gang’s horrifying acts of greed and violence over thirty years ago. Five armed men entered the crowded diner after raiding, robbing, and raping guests at a house party not far away. Known by a variety of cartoonish nicknames – Cobra, Oil Man, and Goliath, among others – the “Belmont Avenue Boys,” as they were then called, forced diner staff and patrons alike to undress and compliantly perform sexual acts upon each other; anyone who refused was shot, sodomized, or worse. After an intense investigation, three of the men were apprehended and sent to prison – but their sentence was reduced from three millennia to a mere thirty years. Anthony, the son of one of the rape victims, conceived on that awful night, learns the truth about his conception on the very day the prisoners are released. Contacting a variety of victims from both the diner and the house party, Anthony puts together a team whose sole focus is capturing the criminals responsible for their pain and emotional turmoil, and exacting their vengeance. But in seeking to punish the Belmont Avenue Boys, Anthony’s crew falls in danger of becoming as irredeemably murderous as the men in their sights.

Rampage 1982 is a true-crime thriller binding together fact with fiction so tightly that readers will have difficulty distinguishing where one ends and the other begins. The result is a heart-pounding tale of human depravity that elicits strong feelings, chiefly disgust, sympathy, and (of course) justice. Many of the scenes toward the beginning of the book – and elsewhere – are hard to stomach, due to their unerring portrayal of the violent crimes involved. While the graphic nature of the story is certainly justified, the novel’s narrative and the development of its characters leads one to assume that Anthony and his accomplices might perhaps come to an understanding of, say, a higher justice – the understanding that one act of violence does not serve as an effective reckoning for another. In this regard, Rampage 1982 reaches a wholly different and hauntingly unexpected conclusion.

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