The Chicago Phoenix

Jimmy Keene's Untold Story

Narrated by Bill Hurlbut
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Pub Date Sep 15 2023 | Archive Date Mar 01 2024

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Before Larry Hall and the events of Black Bird, Jimmy Keene already had a life that most people couldn’t begin to imagine.

Jimmy Keene has a promising future that could take him all the way to a professional sports career, but instead he has been secretly running a dangerous marijuana business since he was thirteen years old. At a young age, Jimmy survives shootouts, brawls, robberies, and even a heist or two. Survival is never guaranteed. Jimmy’s business thrives for two decades until he is arrested and sent to prison. Less than two years later, Jimmy earns early release and a full pardon for aiding the FBI as an undercover operative—but his future has still gone up in smoke.

Newly freed from his perilous prison life, Jimmy is left with nothing but the memory of his former financial success and a determination to redeem his past mistakes. This thrilling follow-up to Black Bird details Jimmy Keene’s action-packed time in the drug business, shares stunning details about his mission to absolve his past, and recounts his rise from the ashes to rebuild a better life and forge his own path all the way to Hollywood.


Before Larry Hall and the events of Black Bird, Jimmy Keene already had a life that most people couldn’t begin to imagine.

Jimmy Keene has a promising future that could take him all the way to a...

Available Editions

EDITION Audiobook, Unabridged
ISBN 9781961181007
PRICE $17.95 (USD)
DURATION 6 Hours, 50 Seconds

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (AUDIO)

Average rating from 12 members

Featured Reviews

‘The Chicago Phoenix: Jimmy Keene’s Untold Story’ written by James Keene and narrated by Bill Hurlbut is a true crime biography about Jimmy Keene as told by his brother.

This is a wonderful audiobook! I enjoyed listening to the crazy life of Jimmy Keene – from running a marijuana business beginning at the age of thirteen to the “Black Bird” situation. Building an empire, going up against Mexican druglords and so much more – had me enthralled and wanting to know more. What an interesting life – growing up as a police officer’s son to being the one the police are following, searching, etc. to straightening out his life.

I’ve not read or listened to other books written by James Keene, but based on this book, I look forward to reading or listening to ‘In with the Devil’ and ‘Black Bird’ and in watching the critically acclaimed award-winning Apple TV series.

Thank you #NetGalley and #SillyGoatMediaAudiobooks #SillyGoatMedia for the opportunity to read this book early in exchange for a review. All opinions and thoughts are those of my own.

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Interesting and well written book that instantly pulled me in and held my attention.
I found myself thinking about this man’s life and wanting to discuss the details with other readers. I can see this book being a hit for book clubs and reading circles.

While there is a lot of information in this audiobook, there are also a vague bundle of references made to a large news story that is directly related to the story this book is based on. A brief recap would have been useful for people (like me) that don’t have a point of reference for that past event. I didn’t want to put this book down to Google the specifics for backstory but feel like the story could have had a much bigger impact if more information was given for context.

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Chicago Phoenix is a great recounting of a true crime epic from recent history. Jimmy Keene built a marijuana empire, then helped elicit a confession from a serial killer to earn some redemption and his freedom.

Written by Keene himself, he probably glossed over some of the things he did to earn the reputation and respect that enabled him to build his empire and hold his own against more established Mexican druglords and more established local gangs that went into him building and maintaining his organization. Also, considering the rebirth elements, it would have been interesting to hear more about his actual time building trust and soliciting confessions and also transitioning back to life as a free man, other than one encourage passing reference to how he put his expertise to good use.

Quite a bit of Keene's skills are brushed off as personality traits, so I wonder if an impartial biographer would have provided more perspective on the work and source behind his ability to organize, persuade, and succeed.

A very compelling, interesting read, and it makes me want to watch the Black Bird series even more.

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Wow...if this book is not an exaggeration this dude has LIVED! I did not know that people actually had these real-life experiences. I am glad that James Keene was able to get his life straightened out and rejoin society. I would love to read more about his life so I am reading his other book the Black Bird.


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This is a really interesting and engaging story! I enjoyed the narration and it felt like more of a drama/fiction than non-fiction which made it even more interesting that this was a real story.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for advanced access to this audiobook.

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