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The Mastermind

Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal.
Written by: Evan Ratliff
Narrated by: Evan Ratliff
Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
4 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 35.09
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Publisher's Summary

The incredible true story of the decade-long quest to bring down Paul Le Roux - the creator of a frighteningly powerful internet-enabled cartel who merged the ruthlessness of a drug lord with the technological savvy of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur

“A tour de force of shoe-leather reporting - undertaken, amid threats and menacing, at considerable personal risk.” (Los Angeles Times)

It all started as an online prescription drug network, supplying hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of painkillers to American customers. It would not stop there. Before long, the business had turned into a sprawling multinational conglomerate engaged in almost every conceivable aspect of criminal mayhem. Yachts carrying $100 million in cocaine. Safe houses in Hong Kong filled with gold bars. Shipments of methamphetamine from North Korea. Weapons deals with Iran. Mercenary armies in Somalia. Teams of hit men in the Philippines. Encryption programs so advanced that the government could not break them.

The man behind it all, pulling the strings from a laptop in Manila, was Paul Calder Le Roux - a reclusive programmer turned criminal genius who could only exist in the networked world of the 21st century, and the kind of self-made crime boss that American law enforcement had never imagined.

For half a decade, DEA agents played a global game of cat-and-mouse with Le Roux as he left terror and chaos in his wake. Each time they came close, he would slip away. It would take relentless investigative work, and a shocking betrayal from within his organization, to catch him. And when he was finally caught, the story turned again, as Le Roux struck a deal to bring down his own organization and the people he had once employed.

Award-winning investigative journalist Evan Ratliff spent four years piecing together this intricate puzzle, chasing Le Roux’s empire and his shadowy henchmen around the world, conducting hundreds of interviews, and uncovering thousands of documents. The result is a riveting, unprecedented account of a crime boss built by and for the digital age.

“A wholly engrossing story that joins the worlds of El Chapo and Edward Snowden; both disturbing and memorable.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

“With his relentless and fearless reporting, Evan Ratliff has pried open a hidden world filled with high-tech gangsters and drug kingpins and double-crossers and stone-cold hitmen. The story is as fascinating as it is terrifying, and it is one that will hold you in its grip.” (David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon)

©2019 Evan Ratliff (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“A true crime classic.” (Publishers Weekly)

“If truth is stranger than fiction, then The Mastermind is the truest book you’ll read this year. The only thing predictable about it is how quickly you’ll turn the pages.” (Noah Hawley, author of Before the Fall and creator of the TV series Fargo)

“As directors, we spend countless hours imagining heightened plots and memorable characters that will leave a lasting impression on audiences. The true tale of obsession, genius, intrigue, and vengeance detailed in The Mastermind is as gripping and cinematic as anything we could endeavor to conjure up.” (Joe and Anthony Russo, directors, Captain America and Avengers: Infinity War)

“This is a mesmerizing, absolutely bonkers story about a man as brilliant as he is villainous. You’ll find yourself sucked in, freaked out, and ultimately blown away by Ratliff's storytelling and tireless reporting. The Mastermind is a masterpiece.” (Nick Thompson, editor-in-chief, Wired)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Hartwig
  • Vegas
  • 2019-03-17

Amazing Read!

I was a little concerned when purchasing this book that the writing would be a bit jumbled per some other reviews. That said I found it to be fantastic and the books author to have great voice narration. I came across this story after listening about it on the Reply ALL podcast and it sounded so interesting I had to get it. If someone would of just told me this story without any context, I would of thought it was total bullshit. We have all heard of El Chapo and other Narco kingpins doing crazy stuff. I would argue the main character in this story trumps them all hands down. I could not stop listening and like the author, I came away feeling that justice really had not been served. In any case, kudos to the author, it is an absolutely amazing story and you did a fantastic job taking us there.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • That Guy Craig
  • 2019-03-30

Riveting and incredibly savage

Loved every moment of it! The most savage unknown kingpin you’ve never heard of! Must read

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Russell
  • 2019-02-13

Ho Hum

This seems like it should be a really big story and it seems like there was a lot of work that went into writing it but, I just couldn’t get into it. Not bad but I don’t think I would buy it again.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Colin Strasser
  • Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
  • 2019-04-10

I really couldn't stop listening.

This was an exciting book that kept me wanting to always hear more.


Thanks Colin.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eileen Clark-Nagaoka
  • 2019-04-07

Incredible , true, story

I learned about this book through the podcast “Longform” and I’m so glad I looked into it. This is an amazing story about a brilliant criminal and his international enterprises. I would often listen to it while in bed, trying to get to sleep which I often couldn’t do because of the dramatic twists and turns of the narrative.
My only complaint is that the narrator sometimes spoke too quickly. I frequently had to repeat segments. But perhaps I was distracted (or more sleepy than I realized).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jay Hendie
  • salt lake city, utah United States
  • 2019-04-02

Probably a great book but the narration is so boring

Maybe it’s because I just listened to Bad Blood (who’s narration was fantastic), but I just couldn’t get into this story because the narration is so boring. It reminds me of a middle schooler reading from a textbook in front of class. Yawn.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Nick
  • 2019-01-30

hard to follow.

this book sounded like it would be a good listen, but it's anything but that. the story is all over the place and the listener is rushed from one scene to another, with zero time to digest what they just heard. after listening to nearly 5 hours I gave up.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Max St. Pierre
  • NEW YORK, NY
  • 2019-04-18

Good but kind of hard to follow

Great story but a bit hard to follow in audio format. I’d imagine as a book it’s easier to track. None the less amazing journalism.

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  • Nayan
  • california
  • 2019-04-14

fantastic audio book

This is an incredible story about a monster who took everyone for a ride and the crazy shit he did.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-04-11

3-hour epilogue

The story goes downhill once the main character meets his fate. Then the last third of the book seems like tying up loose ends. Up until that point though, it's a fascinating character study of a man who does very bad things.