Violent crimes have wide implications, as this work of true crime shows.
Angelo J. Kaltsos’s Music You Will Never Hear relates the story of the author’s uncle who, in 1946, shot and killed a Boston police officer and was subsequently imprisoned for that crime. Kaltsos tells his uncle’s story with kindness and compassion, writing about Bill’s musical abilities and his prison experience.
Kaltsos was greatly affected by his uncle’s arrest, and he uses this book as a vehicle to examine both his family history and the stigma of prisons in the ’40s and ‘50s. His uncle’s love of music figures in as the author learns of the inmates’ music. Kaltsos also examines his traditional Greek family’s reaction to Bill’s crime, arrest, and imprisonment.
The story of the crime itself is an interesting true crime account. A decorated police sergeant was the unintended shooting victim of a home burglary planned by Bill and his cohorts; the officer arrived as Bill was sneaking out with the loot. Bill suffered a gunshot wound to his foot, which he attempted to pass off as an ankle injury to his family. He was arrested in front of most of the family and served twenty-five years in prison. Bill had exceptional musical talent, but his imprisonment crushed his dreams of a career in music. Still, he never lost his love for it. He played in a prison band with other inmates, but this fact made his arrest even more tragic.
The social and family impacts of Bill’s crime are discussed throughout, and the book delves into the stigma from both historical and personal angles, elevating its impact. Kaltsos’s recollections of his family’s responses to one of their own being guilty of a heinous crime show that ramifications extend to others, a reality that has not changed much in the last seven plus decades.
Absent a clear timeline and family tree, the book’s chronology and relationships are occasionally difficult to follow. This is even more true in moments such as where Angelo’s grandmother is called “Ma.” The text’s conversational tone can make the book eminently readable but sometimes results in casual, unnecessary diversions, such as an aside on the “commercial” spelling of yogurt.
Music You Will Never Hear is both a work of true crime and a family drama that succeeds in demonstrating the wide implications for those convicted of violent crimes.
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