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Deathbed confession to Hodder
18.11.08 | Catherine Neilan
A deathbed confession by the murderer of Teamster union boss Jimmy Hoffa, on which director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro are basing a new film, has been acquired by Hodder & Stoughton.
Jack Fogg, editor at Hodder, said the deal for the true crime thriller I Heard You Paint Houses was for "a good five-figure sum". Hodder has Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada. A royal trade paperback edition is due out in March 2010, while the mass paperback will be released to coincide with the film.
Fogg said: "The book came around now because Scorsese and De Niro have just optioned the film rights, and they are going to do a big Goodfella’s-style Mafia movie in the next 2-3 years. We are publishing [the first edition] on the 25th anniversary of Hoffa’s disappearance, and then we’ll tie in the [mass] paperback with the movie."
The book, which was published in the US by Steer Forth Press in 2004, is written by former investigative lawyer Charles Brandt who "elicited the confession" from Frank Sheerhan, who claimed he had been ordered by the Mafia to kill Hoffa in 1975.
"At the time, Hoffa just disappeared, and years later Sheerhan said they cremated him so no one would ever find out," said Fogg. "Hoffa had been mouthing off about his Mob ties, and they obviously didn’t want him to, so they called in this guy, who was a really good friend of his."
Fogg said although only "true crime buffs" might be familiar with the story in the UK "in the States it is like ‘who killed Diana’", adding the film’s release would give the book "a boost" for this market.
Hodder is planning to pitch the title as "upmarket true crime". Fogg explained: "As it was written by a lawyer, he threshes out the politics behind the slayings carried out by the Mob at the peak of their power. There are also implications Frank Sheerhan might have supplied the weapons for the Kennedy shooting."