The Snakehead

Patrick Radden Keefe

16 February 2023
9781529099881
448 pages

Synopsis

‘Reads like a mashup of The Godfather and Chinatown, complete with gun battles, a ruthless kingpin and a mountain of cash. Except that it’s all true.’ – Time

In this thrilling story of real-life events, the bestselling author of Empire of Pain investigates a secret world run by a surprising criminal: a charismatic middle-aged grandmother, who from a tiny noodle shop in New York’s Chinatown, managed a multimillion-dollar business smuggling people.

In The Snakehead, Patrick Radden Keefe reveals the inner workings of Cheng Chui Ping aka Sister Ping’s complex empire and recounts the decade-long FBI investigation that eventually brought her down. He follows an often incompetent and sometimes corrupt INS as it pursues desperate immigrants risking everything to come to America, and along the way he paints a stunning portrait of a generation of undocumented immigrants and the intricate underground economy that sustains and exploits them.

Grand in scope yet propulsive in narrative force, The Snakehead is both a true crime story and a brilliant exploration of the ironies of immigration in America.

‘A powerful piece of reportage about the violent underworld of New York’s Chinatown’ - The Times

Reads like a mashup of The Godfather and Chinatown, complete with gun battles, a ruthless kingpin and a mountain of cash. Except that it's all true.
Essential reading. . . . A rich, beautifully told story, so suspenseful and with so many unexpected twists that in places it reads like a John le Carré novel.
A powerful piece of reportage about the violent underworld of New York’s Chinatown