"Only to people like myself"
The gang’s members ran extortion and protection rackets, with mock trials, torture and sometimes death for those who did not pay up. The authorities said they liked to remove victims’ toes with bolt cutters. For disloyalty to the gang, they prescribed blowtorches and whippings. Mr. Fraser’s specialty was nailing people to the floor and extracting their teeth with pliers.
His prison terms, for assault, torture, robbery, extortion and rioting, ranged from two to 10 years and were so frequent that he rarely spent more than a few years at large. In a prison library, he discovered books. “I used to love P. G. Wodehouse — Jeeves and all that,” he told Mr. Linder. “In fact, that’s what gave me the idea to start doing country houses.”