Mr Big, by Tony Reeves

Leonard Arthur McPherson’s life of crime started just before the end of his brief schooling at the local Birchgrove State Primary School. On 7 December 1932, at the age of eleven and a half, he was put on probation – a good behaviour bond – in the Children’s Court on a charge of stealing. If he reoffended during that probationary period, he’d be in serious trouble

So began the criminal career of Lennie McPherson, the man who became known as Mr Big. It was a career punctuated with violence, police corruption, murder, rape and more.

In Mr Big, investigative journalist Tony Reeves presents a detailed account of McPherson’s life and of the unbelievable official corruption which enabled him to follow such a career with little risk of prosecution or punishment.

This not a book which glorifies the criminal’s deeds – Reeves makes this clear in the opening pages when he talks about writing McPherson’s obituary. Instead, it is a catalogue of a life of crime, presenting carefully researched information not previously made public. As well as detailing McPherson’s often horrific crimes, Reeves names the corrupt policemen, judges and others who enabled such crimes to go unpunished.

Mr Big is not an enjoyable read, but it is one which will inform and shock readers. McPherson’s life, as Reeves reports it, is almost beyond belief.

Mr Big, by Tony Reeves
Allen & Unwin, 2005