Book Review | Chemical Cowboys by Lisa Sweetingham

Title: Chemical Cowboys: The DEA’s Secret Mission to Hunt Down a Notorious Ecstasy Kingpin
From the Publisher:

For nearly a decade, Ecstasy kingpin Oded Tuito was the mastermind behind a drug ring that used strippers and ultra-Orthodox teenagers to mule millions of pills from Holland to the party triangle Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. CHEMICAL COWBOYS: The DEA’s Secret Mission to Hunt Down a Notorious Ecstasy Kingpin is the thrilling, never-before-told success story of the groundbreaking undercover investigations that led to the toppling of a billion-dollar Ecstasy trafficking network, starting in 1995 when New York DEA Agent Robert Gagne infiltrated club land to uncover a thriving drug scene supported by two cultures: pill-popping club kids and Israeli dealers. Gagne’s obsessive mission to make Ecstasy a priority for the DEA and to take down Tuito’s network met with unexpected professional and personal challenges that almost crippled his own family. Woven into the narrative are the stories of Tuito’s underlings, who struggled with addiction as they ran from the law, and the compelling experiences of a veteran Israeli police officer who aided Gagne while chasing after his own target a violent Mob boss who saw the riches to be made in Ecstasy and began to import his own pills and turf warfare to the U.S.

About the Author:
Journalist Lisa Sweetingham spent four years following in the footsteps of DEA agents and Ecstasy traffickers to bring CHEMICAL COWBOYS to life. Previously, she covered high-profile murder trials and Supreme Court nomination hearings for Court TV online. Sweetingham is a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Parade, Spin, Time Out New York, Health Affairs, and many other publications. She resides in Los Angeles. CHEMICAL COWBOYS is her first book.

My Review:

I am a fan of true crime books so I was very excited to read this book and learn more about the drug trade. This was my first book on this particular subject and I found the content fascinating. This book kept my interest piqued right from the get go and was a fast read especially with the short chapters. I kept myself awake for a few nights wanting to just read “one more chapter” which ends up turning into two or three and so on.

I liked Lisa Sweetingham’s writing style and found it similar to the Ann Rule true crime novels that I also enjoy. You can easily see the quality research the author has put into this book based on the amount of detailed information. It was easy to read and understand and well laid out. I liked how she devotes one chapter to one particular area and describes the scenes and characters so vividly. You feel like you are actually there which is the sign of a great book. My favourite parts were the Club scenes in New York in the early 90s. I could easily picture how it would have been like. This is a book that will not only entertain you, but also teach you a few things too. I feel more informed now and have a greater understanding and appreciation for the behind the scenes of law enforcement and drug dealers.

If you are a fan of true crime or are looking for a great summer read that will keep you wanting to read more, then this is the book for you. I highly recommend it and would definitely love to read more of Lisa Sweetingham’s books.

*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.*


Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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