Line of Blood: Uncovering a Secret Legacy of Mobsters, Money, and Murder: A Short Review

Line of Blood: Uncovering a Secret Legacy of Mobsters, Money, and Murder by Jana Marcus

A Short Review by Rickey Pittman

I discovered the writing of Jana Marcus in my review of her earlier book, In the Shadow of the Vampire, which you can read on this blog. That review led me to read and review this work. But first, a word about Jana Marcus. Marcus is the author of two photodocumentary books, “In The Shadow Of The Vampire: Reflections from the World of Anne Rice” and “Transfigurations,” which received the Gold Award for Best LGBT Non-Fiction Book of 2012 by the Independent Book Awards of New York. She is a multi-award-winning photographer based in Santa Cruz County. You can discover much more about her and many illustrations of her exceptional photography at her website.

I am happy to have discovered her, a careful writer who has a fantastic inner theatre, an imagination no doubt fueled by her expert photographer’s eye. The subtitle of the writing gives the reader a strong hint of what is found in this murder-mystery-memoir–there is much here about mobsters, money, and murder. This is a tale of a Brooklyn family with their histories, their family trees, their secrets, and their faults and strengths. There is a section of family photos that bring places, family members, and graves into focus and helps the visualization of the narrative.  Marcus’s years of obsessive and careful research led her on her tedious quest for answers for unsolved murders. She found answers to many of her questions, but her discoveries were often painful, heartbreaking, and disappointing. I encourage you to read this fine book to discover for yourself what she found. She obviously knows how to create a documentary.

As a reader, I most enjoyed learning from this read.  Marcus used a psychic in her search and I learned much about how a psychic works in their communication with the past and with the dead. There certainly seemed to be some very haunted places connected to the murders. Marcus and her friends help her expose the massive corruption that had taken place in the DA’s office and the Brooklyn police in the 30s and 40s. The reader meets the Italian and Jewish mob leaders who, along with the corrupt law enforcement agencies, controlled the gangsters, the businesses, as well as the region’s prostitution, gambling, and murder for hire. Her narrative made me realize better than any crime movie of that period how corrupt things can become. Marcus says, “What was extremely evident to me was just how rampant corruption ran within the ranks of the police department and the higher authorities in the 1930s and 1940s” (p.111).

Here are some interesting discoveries I made:

Murder Incorporated. – an organized crime group in the 1930s and 40s that enforces the crime groups in the greater New York City area. Marcus covers their history from their formation to their end.

I learned much about Jewish gangsters. They were much more formidable a crime force than I had realized before this reading. Marcus also introduced me to many Jewish/Yiddish words and customs.

Marcus spent half her life in her search for answers. To conclude, I think this is the most memorable quote in the book: “I’ve learned the dead do talk…if you listen.”

You can order Marcus’ book HERE: 






Stonewall Jackson: A Great Christian, General, and Inspiration PART TWO

Stonewall Jackson: A Great Christian, General, and Inspiration PART TWO

My children’s picture book, Stonewall Jackson’s Black Sunday School is out of print, but don’t despair! I will gladly email a free part one HERE:  Download part two HERE:

Here is the original cover.  Perhaps you’ve seen it around. It received an award from the Colonial Dames of America.


Jackson was a deacon in the Presbyterian Church. He started a Sunday school on Sunday afternoons for free blacks and slaves. He taught them to read, (when it was illegal to do so) gave them Bibles, and taught them their catechism. One student in Jackson’s Sunday School became a pastor and he raised money from the black community for a stained glass window to honor Jackson with his last words on it. Here’s an image of that window:

Here are two videos that honor Stonewall Jackson in song. The first is a song written and performed by Jed Marum:

The second song that honors Stonewall Jackson is “Christmastime in Washington” that Jed Marum and I wrote and recorded. Considering the. current Cancel Culture and the politically correct war on Southerners, tradition, statues, and history, this song has an appropriate message.

You can listen to the song HERE:

Here are the lyrics!

Stonewall Jackson: A Great Christian, General, and Inspiration PART ONE

Stonewall Jackson Facts

  • The United States Navy submarine U.S.S. Stonewall Jackson (SSBN 634), commissioned in 1964, was named for him. The words “Strength—Mobility” are emblazoned on the ship’s banner, words taken from letters written by General Jackson
  • Stonewall Jackson appeared on the CSA $500 bill (7th Issue, February 17, 1864).
  • “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” —Jackson’s last words
  • “You may be whatever you resolve to be”—Stonewall Jackson
  • It was during the Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War when Jackson assumed his nickname. Amidst the tumult of battle, Brigadeer-General Barnard E. Bee stated, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.”
  • Jackson also appears prominently in the enormous bas-relief carving on the face of Stone Mountain riding with Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. (In Georgia)
  • Stonewall’s steed, Little Sorrel (the Confederacy’s 2nd most famous horse)
  • Jackson was said to be especially fond of lemons. Visitors frequently leave them
    at his gravesite.

“Stonewall” Jackson has two separate burial sites. His left arm, which was amputated after the battle of Chancellorsville, was buried on a nearby farm. A week later, Jackson died and was buried in Lexington, Virginia. Stonewall died on a Sunday. He had prayed that he would be allowed to die on the Sabbath.

Songs and poems were written about Stonewall Jackson even during the Civil War. One of those was “Stonewall Jackson’s Way.”  According to a book, War Songs and Poems of the Southern Confederacy, “these verses were found written on a small piece of paper, all stained with blood in the bosom of a dead soldier of the old Stonewall Brigade after one of Jackson’s battles in the Shenandoah Valley” (47).  According to it was later discovered that the author was John Williamson Palmer (1825-1906).

COME, stack arms, men! Pile on the rails,
Stir up the camp-fire bright;
No matter if the canteen fails,
We’ll make a roaring night.
Here Shenandoah brawls along,
There burly Blue Ridge echoes strong,
To swell the brigade’s rousing song
Of “Stonewall Jackson’s way.”
We see him now, — the old slouched hat
Cocked o’er his eye askew;
The shrewd, dry smile, the speech so pat,
So calm, so blunt, so true.
The “Blue-Light Elder” knows ’em well;
Says he, “That’s Banks, — he’s fond of shell;
Lord save his soul! we’ll give him —;” well,
That’s “Stonewall Jackson’s way.”
Silence! ground arms! kneel all! caps off!
Old “Blue Light’s” going to pray.
Strangle the fool that dares to scoff!
Attention! it’s his way.
Appealing from his native sod,
In forma pauperis to God,
“Lay bare Thine arm; stretch forth Thy rod!
Amen!” That’s “Stonewall’s way.”
He’s in the saddle now. Fall in!
Steady! the whole brigade!
Hill’s at the ford cut off; we’ll win
His way out, ball and blade!
What matter if our shoes are worn?
What matter if our feet are torn?
“Quick-step! we’re with him before morn!”
That’s “Stonewall Jackson’s way.”
The sun’s bright lances rout the mists
Of morning, and, by George!
Here’s Longstreet struggling in the lists,
Hemmed in an ugly gorge.
Pope and his Yankees, whipped before,
“Bay’nets and grape!” hear Stonewall roar;
“Charge, Stuart! Pay off Ashby’s score!”
In “Stonewall Jackson’s way.”
Ah! Maiden, wait and watch and yearn
For news of Stonewall’s band!
Ah! Widow, read, with eyes that burn,
That ring upon thy hand.
Ah! Wife, sew on, pray on, hope on;
Thy life shall not be all forlorn;
The foe had better ne’er been born
That gets in “Stonewall’s way.”