THE PURPLES - a historical thriller by W. K. Berger

"Corruption in 1920s Detroit is brought to life in vivid detail in this accomplished book." —Publishers Weekly

The fast-paced thriller THE PURPLES, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Semifinalist, blends richly-detailed historical fiction with nonstop action, all narrated by the smart, self-deluding, and unforgettable Joe Bernstein.

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"If you believe the papers, we sprang from thin air in 1924. At the time, people started turning up dead in Detroit—which was nothing new, even back then. But when twenty Jewish men get put on the spot in three days, it gets noticed. They blamed it on us, but the truth is not one of those crimes was committed by the Purples. Technically speaking." 

Shunned by his community... locked up for trying to help an innocent girl... ambushed by rivals and left for dead in the Detroit River: Joe Bernstein has a few scores to settle, and a bold plan to seize control of the Motor City in its booming 1920s heyday. With his faithful "agent" Abie, his brilliant but fragile brother Max, and an out-of-control enforcer named Grabowski (not to mention a couple of carnivorous creatures known as "the babies"), Bernstein gives rise to the infamous Purple Gang—so named by local merchants because the gang's members were said to be "tainted, like spoiled meat."

Bernstein's boys set their sights on taking over the Detroit River, the pipeline connecting dry America to wet Canada. But Joe also must contend with having "a sweetheart in the nut house" and rising tensions within his gang. Worst of all, the D.A.'s office has brought in an amputee war hero named Riley—who seems to be one step ahead of Joe's big plans.

A fast-paced thriller that builds to the climactic Collingwood Massacre (a seminal event that changed Detroit forever), THE PURPLES blends richly-detailed historical fiction with nonstop action, all narrated in the wry voice of Joe Bernstein. 

W. K. Berger is an award-winning journalist and author whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, and Esquire. His nonfiction books, published under the name Warren Berger, have been published internationally by Penguin, Bloomsbury, and Random House. He wrote this novel after hearing about how his wife's grandfather as a Detroit prosecutor in the late 1920s took down the notorious Purple Gang, led by Joe Bernstein—of course, this is a highly fictionalized (better) version of real-life events. 

THE PURPLES is available as an ebook, a paperback, and an Audible audiobook on

A Few Reviews

"The rich detail of the multifaceted characters bring realism to this well-crafted tale. The author reveals that not even the most hardened gangster is truly good or evil as gang violence erupts and the story reaches its fitting conclusion."
—Publishers Weekly

 "A finely crafted novel, this effort by W. K. Berger is worthy of every—and any—superlative in the English vocabulary. Very entertaining.…"
—The Book Review Dude, George Wolf

 "Read this book because it's fun. Berger captures the spirit of Detroit when it is small enough to walk around and when the whole city administration can easily fit into a gangster's hip pocket."
—Historical Novel Review, L. Gregory Graham

 "The cover quote says, 'Fast moving and funny, The Purples has a hard edge, a soft heart, and an original voice.' I've never read a more apt blurb. Tense, exciting, and extremely satisfying.... The appeal of The Purples is universal."
—LL Book Review

 "A historical legend come to life."—