A Mullingar based author and former editor of Hotpress magazine, Jason O'Toole has released a controversial new book "Crime Ink", which includes interviews with drug trafficker John Gilligan, Ireland's longest serving killer...
Paddy McCann and lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano, dubbed "The Devil's Advocate" for his defence of Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and a cast of Irish criminals.
The author of the current Taoiseach's biography, "Brian Cowen: The Path to Power", Jason who was born in Dublin, started out as a journalist for the Evening Herald, before moving to Poland where he met his wife. Deciding to return to Ireland to study at DCU, Jason settled in Mullingar after spotting the house of his dreams here.
"I met my wife in Poland, but when I decided to come home to study, she refused to live in Dublin, so we drove into Mullingar early one Wednesday morning, picked up a copy of the Westmeath Examiner actually, and found the house of our dreams," said Jason O'Toole.
During his time with Hotpress, Jason first got his passion for crime writing when he interviewed a major Dublin drug dealer for the magazine.
"It all happened by accident. I used to do the political columns for Hotpress, but then I set up an interview with a drug dealer and I became fascinated with how open and insightful the interview was into that life," he explained. "From there I managed to get an interview with John Gilligan, which was so controversial that Hotpress was banned from the prison system.
"And from there it snowballed really. After two years of doing that I realised I had enough material for a book, and luckily enough my publishers agreed with me," he said.
Since then Jason has been giving interviews left, right and centre about this controversial book, which has received huge publicity in both the print and broadcast media. So what has the reaction really been like?
"Mostly people are positive, but there are some that say it gives criminals a platform and makes them into heros, but they are not. For instance, Gilligan confesses to more crimes in my interviews with him than he has been convicted of. So it gives a clear insight into the crime world but doesn't glorify it."
Crime Ink features a host of hardened criminals, among them bank robber and alleged hit man Dutchy Holland, Alan "Fat Puss" Bradley talks openly about the murder of John Daly and his dealings with the Criminal Assets Bureau, major Republican figures John Noonan and Gerry Kelly speak candidly for the first time.
O'Toole's journey into the criminal underworld brings him to Spain's "Costa Del Crime", where he meets with the Irish drug dealers living the high life. In an interview with rapper and ex-drug dealer Nailerz he paints a chilling picture of life on the Moyross estate in Limerick.
Jason, who is the owner of the publishing house Killynon House Books, also based in Mullingar, plans to release another book later this year in November, detailing the life of Katy French and the tragic events that led to her death.