The Mastermind
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 entrepreneurIt 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 hitmen 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 twenty-first 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 LeRoux'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.Advance praise for The Mastermind“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 of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War“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“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“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

The Mastermind Details

TitleThe Mastermind
Author
ReleaseJan 29th, 2019
PublisherRandom House
ISBN-139780399590412
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Crime, True Crime, History, Mystery

The Mastermind Review

  • Murtaza
    January 1, 1970
    Very strange and dark story about a man, Paul Leroux, who used his coding knowledge to eventually set himself up as some kind of barbarian drug kingpin. I am impressed at the massive amount of reporting that went into this story over several years. Despite that, it was not really my favorite. There is lots of blow-by-blow of this complicated and disturbing criminal plot but not much reflection on what it all means for our society and the human condition.My own takeaway is that Leroux was a distu Very strange and dark story about a man, Paul Leroux, who used his coding knowledge to eventually set himself up as some kind of barbarian drug kingpin. I am impressed at the massive amount of reporting that went into this story over several years. Despite that, it was not really my favorite. There is lots of blow-by-blow of this complicated and disturbing criminal plot but not much reflection on what it all means for our society and the human condition.My own takeaway is that Leroux was a disturbed man who was completely enslaved to his passions. Like a crazed colonial official from a Joseph Conrad novel, he exploited the weak institutions of third world countries to live as a man outside of any legal or moral constraint. The violence and depravity of his organization was completely gratuitous. In the end he only got caught because it didn’t seem like he cared about getting caught.If you like true crime books you will like this one. I give it three stars out of respect to the years of grueling reporting that went into it. I feel however that the inevitable movie about Leroux based on this book will be more entertaining.
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  • Bonnie Brody
    January 1, 1970
    What does the murder of a female realtor in the Philippines, shot by a 22 under each eye, have to do with small pharmacies all over the United States that are filling prescriptions over the internet? In addition, what does the foregoing have to do with hitmen, international arms dealers, the smuggling and selling of cocaine and meth, and other international crimes? If you want to know, read this book which is an investigative reporter's dream (or maybe nightmare). The author spent several years What does the murder of a female realtor in the Philippines, shot by a 22 under each eye, have to do with small pharmacies all over the United States that are filling prescriptions over the internet? In addition, what does the foregoing have to do with hitmen, international arms dealers, the smuggling and selling of cocaine and meth, and other international crimes? If you want to know, read this book which is an investigative reporter's dream (or maybe nightmare). The author spent several years working with various police agencies in several countries, the FBI, Interpol, the DEA, etc. to figure out how all of this was connected.Witnesses often disappeared or were killed. Some of the agencies, and those who worked there, were crooked. The author, Evan Ratliff, realized that police in the Philippines, Somalia, Colombia, and other countries involved in this huge conspiracy, often made so little money that they were unable to live on it. Naturally, they were the perfect targets for payoffs.If you are a computer buff or a techie, this book is perfect for you. There is a lot about encryption, including a brief mention of Edward Snowden, and the programs that lie just beneath the surface of the regular internet that most of us are not even aware of.As the author looked into the selling of drugs and arms, murders and international connections, one name kept popping up - Paul Calder Le Roux. When described, he didn't look the part of the mastermind behind all of this. He was very overweight, dressed casually in shorts and flip-flops, but believe me, you didn't want to get on his bad side.The book is rather complex to follow, mainly because large and brilliant conspiracies are complex and difficult to unravel. If you are a conspiracy theorist, this book is a golden find. It is heavy reading and I was glad that the author included a 'cast of characters' in the beginning as I referred to it many a time.I love non-fiction books about true crime and there are not much worse crimes than those described in this book.
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  • Randal White
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing story! Reads like a Vince Flynn or James Bond type thriller. Who would ever have believed that there was actually a "super-villain", who manipulated events world-wide, all the while staying hidden behind the scenes? I couldn't put it down!
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for the advanced copy of this upcoming true crime work. I requested it because I knew I had read something about the main character (the Mastermind) but I couldn’t remember where or when. After finishing the book, I determined from the author’s notes that it was long form articles by the same author that I had read in The Atavist. This book expands on those articles about an international criminal and possibly genius and was a great read. I applaud Mr. Ratlif Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for the advanced copy of this upcoming true crime work. I requested it because I knew I had read something about the main character (the Mastermind) but I couldn’t remember where or when. After finishing the book, I determined from the author’s notes that it was long form articles by the same author that I had read in The Atavist. This book expands on those articles about an international criminal and possibly genius and was a great read. I applaud Mr. Ratliff for his dedication in reporting this story, both in time and effort. Good journalists are truly like a dog with a bone, not willing to quit until their curiosity is satisfied, and luckily, they share with us. There is so much that is fantastical in this tale, it is hard to believe it was all possible. The end was a bit of a letdown, but that was due to the facts not the writing. Highly recommended for fans of true crime.
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  • Jamma
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Random House via NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. It’s hard to believe this is not fiction. The story of Paul LeRoux is just so incredible. One can only wonder what may have happened had he put his considerable talents and smarts to something legitimate. Evan Ratliff spent four years researching this book and it certainly shows in the details he gives us. And I wasn’t bogged down by these details - I found them fascinating. The book is as good as any mystery thr Thanks to Random House via NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. It’s hard to believe this is not fiction. The story of Paul LeRoux is just so incredible. One can only wonder what may have happened had he put his considerable talents and smarts to something legitimate. Evan Ratliff spent four years researching this book and it certainly shows in the details he gives us. And I wasn’t bogged down by these details - I found them fascinating. The book is as good as any mystery thriller. I would recommend this to anyone who loves this sort of real life thriller.
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in return for a review as part of GoodReads' First Reads program.The Mastermind is the story of Paul Calder Le Roux, one of the biggest, most deadly and most evil drug kingpins you never heard of. Born in Rhodesia (no Zimbabwe) and growing up in South Africa, he began in software, writing a program called Encryption for the Masses (E4M), which became the core of the program TrueCrypt. Disappointed that his free software was making money for someone else Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in return for a review as part of GoodReads' First Reads program.The Mastermind is the story of Paul Calder Le Roux, one of the biggest, most deadly and most evil drug kingpins you never heard of. Born in Rhodesia (no Zimbabwe) and growing up in South Africa, he began in software, writing a program called Encryption for the Masses (E4M), which became the core of the program TrueCrypt. Disappointed that his free software was making money for someone else, but not him, he moved in a new direction. He started an online pharmacy business, selling drugs that weren't technically yet controlled substances, so he could tell the brick and mortar pharmacies who filled the orders, and the doctors who approved them, that it was all legal (it wasn't). Making hundreds of millions of dollars, he decided to branch out into arms dealing and moving illegal narcotics. He hired his own small army of mercenaries who would assassinate people he though had ripped him off. When he was eventually caught, he immediately turned into a witness for the DEA and turned over his employees to prosecutors. He is currently in jail awaiting sentencing, and may get off with as little as time served, or as much as another ten years. After his release, his unaccounted for millions will be at his disposal to continue his criminal enterprises or explore new options. This book is very well researched and very interesting. I'd recommend it.
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  • Nan Williams
    January 1, 1970
    This non-fiction book is about the extraordinary rise to power of Paul Le Roux who became a drug lord of international consequence without ever producing anything. His expertise was in encrypting software so that legal pharmaceuticals could be bought and sold over the internet. In the beginning all the drug sales were entirely legal. He contracted with small town US pharmacies with good reputations and also contracted with doctors of good repute. It’s a fascinating expose of how easily he put al This non-fiction book is about the extraordinary rise to power of Paul Le Roux who became a drug lord of international consequence without ever producing anything. His expertise was in encrypting software so that legal pharmaceuticals could be bought and sold over the internet. In the beginning all the drug sales were entirely legal. He contracted with small town US pharmacies with good reputations and also contracted with doctors of good repute. It’s a fascinating expose of how easily he put all this into play and how he was able to evade the law once the business entered more shadowy exchanges. It was also fascinating to me how he was able to establish a global empire by the time he was just 41!!A lot of research has gone into this book. It was quite a noteworthy effort. I received this ARC from NetGalley and from the publisher, Random House, in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Steve Aberle
    January 1, 1970
    The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal by Evan Ratliff is so out there that if it were fiction you would say that the story was impossible. But that is what makes great non – fiction. A story too crazy to be believed. As the saying goes; the truth is stranger than fiction. And after reading The Mastermind, you will believe that saying.A realtor is killed, and pharmacies are filling scripts over the internet. Hit men, arms deals, coke, and meth all conspire to make for an incredible inv The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal by Evan Ratliff is so out there that if it were fiction you would say that the story was impossible. But that is what makes great non – fiction. A story too crazy to be believed. As the saying goes; the truth is stranger than fiction. And after reading The Mastermind, you will believe that saying.A realtor is killed, and pharmacies are filling scripts over the internet. Hit men, arms deals, coke, and meth all conspire to make for an incredible investigatory book written by a very talented reporter/author.The action occurs throughout the world as the reader is drawn into a violence-filled environment fueled by money, technology, and greed.The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal is a fantastical adventure into a world that we may hear about but are not a part of. Read this and you will be a part of that world.
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  • Linda S.
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book for free from netgallery in return for a review. First, I will start by saying that the title of the book is so appropriate! Paul Le Roux is definitely a brilliant man, albeit a twisted one. Ratliff does a great job detailing all of the various ventures that Le Roux was working, and believe me...there are many! In some ways, the level of detail is overwhelming, but I think that’s a necessary evil in a story this complex. All the while I was reading this I couldn’t I received a copy of this book for free from netgallery in return for a review. First, I will start by saying that the title of the book is so appropriate! Paul Le Roux is definitely a brilliant man, albeit a twisted one. Ratliff does a great job detailing all of the various ventures that Le Roux was working, and believe me...there are many! In some ways, the level of detail is overwhelming, but I think that’s a necessary evil in a story this complex. All the while I was reading this I couldn’t help but wonder how I hadn’t heard this story in the media. But, I am very glad that I read this book and I will look for other works by this author.
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  • Jessica Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    This book took the criminal world and the virtual world and made them into one. The story has your violence from betrayal that is brought front and center as it happens, but it doesn't shy away from what is the true crime. The true scheme, doctors, pharmacies, drugs; not just local either - from the tiniest cities in Minnesota to beautiful South Africa, to the poorest areas of the Philippines. Evan Ratliff has really done his research with this one, and it shows. Pages kept turning and I had to This book took the criminal world and the virtual world and made them into one. The story has your violence from betrayal that is brought front and center as it happens, but it doesn't shy away from what is the true crime. The true scheme, doctors, pharmacies, drugs; not just local either - from the tiniest cities in Minnesota to beautiful South Africa, to the poorest areas of the Philippines. Evan Ratliff has really done his research with this one, and it shows. Pages kept turning and I had to know how it ended. Read like a thriller novel, but was a true crime novel. Absolutely loved it!Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review!
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  • Ava Huang
    January 1, 1970
    This book is RIVETING. I finished it over the course of an evening. It feels like a thriller, but Paul Le Roux is an odder character than you'd think fiction could produce and the strangeness of what unfolds just keeps going on and on until the size and complexity of the criminal organization he runs completely exceeds plausibility. There's just an incredible amount of absolutely bonkers material. Reality as surrealism, basically. You'll be glued to it.
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  • Susan Wright
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. I was captivated within the first several pages of this work and had to keep reminding myself that this is a factual account. The amount of work that Ratcliff put into his research and compilation is remarkable. One has to respect Le Roux's intelligence and drive to create such a mind boggling criminal enterprise; imagine if that knowledge and energy to a more prosocial endeavor.Thank you Goodreads for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this!
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    A bit like an action movie, this is a well-written thriller smartly told by a talented writer. It complex and taught and great for someone who like tech. I read Cliff Stoll's Cuckoo's Egg many years ago when it first came out, and although quite different for many reasons, I liked this one even more. The fact people work on taking down someone for ten years in itself is pretty amazing. Kudos to the author on such great research and for bringing it to us in such a compelling way! Recommended.
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  • Sarahbscc
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this book so much because Ilove true crime. Unfortunately, it was too slow for my taste. There were a lot of good details and I liked that the author was writing from his perspective and experience, but it just dragged on for me. I think it went into too much detail and the story ended up getting lost because there were so many moving pieces and people. I think it’s a very detailed, long novel, that I usually enjoy but it didn’t keep my attention and I put it down about a quarte I wanted to like this book so much because Ilove true crime. Unfortunately, it was too slow for my taste. There were a lot of good details and I liked that the author was writing from his perspective and experience, but it just dragged on for me. I think it went into too much detail and the story ended up getting lost because there were so many moving pieces and people. I think it’s a very detailed, long novel, that I usually enjoy but it didn’t keep my attention and I put it down about a quarter in.
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  • Linda Ghent
    January 1, 1970
    I received a proof copy of this book for free from netgallery in return for a review. First, I will start by saying that the title of the book is so appropriate! Paul Le Roux is definitely a brilliant man, albeit a twisted one. Ratliff does a great job detailing all of the various ventures that Le Roux was working, and believe me...there are many! In some ways, the level of detail is overwhelming, but I think that’s a necessary evil in a story this complex. All the while I was reading this I cou I received a proof copy of this book for free from netgallery in return for a review. First, I will start by saying that the title of the book is so appropriate! Paul Le Roux is definitely a brilliant man, albeit a twisted one. Ratliff does a great job detailing all of the various ventures that Le Roux was working, and believe me...there are many! In some ways, the level of detail is overwhelming, but I think that’s a necessary evil in a story this complex. All the while I was reading this I couldn’t help but wonder how I hadn’t heard this story in the media. But, I am very glad that I read this book and I will look for other works by this author.
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  • Cristy Emmnm
    January 1, 1970
    2019 Read Harder Challenge: A book of nonviolent true crime
  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    I love true stories that feel like action movies. This book definitely fits it! Full of action and drama with great characters. Well written and informative. I recommend this book if you read true stories.
  • Jennifer Rico
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this book. True crime isn't my usual genre, but it flowed so well. The writing style was great. The only downfall to this book was the slow start. I like to be gripped from page one.Thank you #NetGalley for an early copy of #TheMastermind
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