The Billionaire Boys Club
by Sue Horton
St. Martin’s Press
Rating – 9 / 10
Summary – The Billionaire Boys Club is an unbelievable, well-written tale of murder among the Los Angeles jet set. True crime fans will not want to miss it.
Review – Joe Hunt was born Joseph Gamsky in 1959 and grew up in a troubled home in Los Angeles. In spite of his family’s problems, Hunt was bright and earned a scholarship to Los Angeles’ prestigious Harvard School, from which he graduated in 1977. After high school, Hunt continued on what appeared to be a promising path by attending the University of Southern California.
But somewhere along the way – for reasons that will never be fully explained – things went very wrong for Hunt. He dropped out of USC and became obsessed with making money. He spent some time in Chicago trading commodities, but Hunt’s behaviors earned him a ten-year suspension from the commodities exchange.
After Chicago, Hunt went back to Los Angeles, where – along with some impressionable young men – he started an investment and social club called the BBC. (The Billionaire Boys Club was a nickname for the BBC). With Hunt as their leader, the BBC attracted funds, which the “boys” promptly spent or lost in the commodities markets. When the club began losing money, Hunt turned to murder as a way to obtain more funds and punish his enemies. The BBC is one of those “you- wouldn’t- believe- it-if- it-weren’t-true” stories with Hunt starring as a Horatio Alger turned psychopath.
Readers will enjoy the characters that they get to meet through this book. In addition to Hunt, you have –
– Ron Levin – a Beverly Hills con man, who both charms and repels
– Reza Eslaminia – a drug-addled, Iranian-American BBC member who offers his own father to Hunt as a target
– Hedayat Eslaminia – Reza’s father, an opium-addicted refugee who is tormented by the loss of the power and privileges he enjoyed in Iran before the fall of the Shah.
– Fred Wapner – the prosecutor in one of Joe’s trials and the son of TV’s “Judge Wapner.”
Author Sue Horton is a fine writer. Unlike many true crime authors, she does not provide too many details from the trials of BBC members. One unfortunate aspect of her writing is her tendency make unflattering comments about people. For instance, one of Joe’s classmates “…was a round, funny-looking boy with a beak-like nose and a receding chin” (p. 16). A woman is “Short, slightly chubby, with an upturned nose and long blond hair, Debi could at best be considered cute” (p. 174). I’m glad that Horton hasn’t written a description of me.
The book needs an update, as it ends before all of the trials had finished. Also, the years of appeals in the cases have produced some surprising results. After finishing the book, readers will want to “Google” the case and learn what has happened.
The BBC book is a real page-turner. Any true-crime fan will enjoy it.