The Laundry Man


When I first spotted The Laundry Man on the Bookazine shelves, I thought at first it was a re-issue of Jake Needham’s book called The Laundry Man, but then I noticed that the author of this one was Ken Rijock, and whilst there are some similarities in the subject of the books, Rijock’s is an autobiography, whilst Needham’s is fiction.

The Laundry Man (ISBN978-0-241-95417-1, Penguin/Viking, 2012) is the tale of Ken Rijock, a once high-flying US lawyer, who found himself as a much needed assistant to the drug traders in Miami as he had some foolproof methods of laundering their ‘dirty’ drug money.

Rijock shows himself to be an archetypal risk-taker, with a live-in lover a female police officer, staying in his house full of drugs.  Mind you, his police-lady paramour was no shrinking violet when it came to using the white powder herself either, though he gives the impression that everyone was on a cocaine trip in Miami at that time.

He very quickly makes a name for himself as a trustworthy professional, traveling to the Caribbean each weekend as an erstwhile tourist with a suitcase full of dirty money, which was then used to buy boats and off the shelf businesses.

Finding a suitably ethics-free banker and lawyer made his weekend’s work even easier, as he moved the cash around, selling the boats, transferring large lumps of cash, whilst going into St. Kitts and not even getting a passport stamp.

He attempts to legitimize his actions by saying that his clients had a problem (cleaning dirty money) and he, Ken Rijock was a problem solver.

He tries hard to get the reader on side, drawing attention to the fact that he volunteered for Vietnam, but even that was done to minimize his chances of being exposed to extreme frontline fighting.  Ken Rijock had always played the odds to his favor.

Eventually his launderette collapses around his ears as he gets fingered by those further down the chain of command, and this is where he really pulls in all the favors and instead of getting a 15 year sentence, comes out with a four year one, which then gets cut down to two as he spills the beans on the whole laundry system and those who used it.

It was an interesting book, showing the devious nature of the man, and his profession in the US, where plea-bargaining and behind the scenes machinations make a mockery of the “justice” system.  Rijock tries hard to get the reader on side, just as he had tried to get the judge and parole officers on side as well.  He does not really succeed, in my opinion, coming across as an opportunist who was in it for everything he could get.  At least he appears as an ‘honest’ criminal writer, so he cannot be all bad.  However, he does not seem such a likeable ‘baddie’ as opposed to Howard Marks’, AKA Mr. Nice.

At B. 655, this is not a bargain, with so many books now well under B. 600.  However the font is large, a boon for all those over 40!