The Real King of Miami

The story of convicted murderer Ray "Li'l Ray" Thompson

Non-Fiction - True Crime
200 Pages
Reviewed on 12/26/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Adanna Ora for Readers' Favorite

Raymond Thompson, also known as Li'l Ray, was the most feared and revered drug lord in all of South Florida. He controlled millions of dollars from the sale of hard drugs and other businesses in Miami. He was also one of the most investigated people in Miami at the time and a hard nut for the police to crack. On a fateful day, Raymond was arrested and given a death sentence for the murder of his associates and his connections with other crimes. What led to the downfall of this enigmatic, heavily guarded, and wealthy man? Eric Sande, who had only heard of Raymond Thompson in stories, had the opportunity to meet physically with him while he was still on death row and had the rare privilege of hearing first-hand Ray's life experiences and how his life took an anti-climactic turn. Eric turned these notes on Ray's life into The Real King of Miami. Here, we see Raymond Thompson from different angles: as an astute businessman, a trusting friend, an inspiring leader, and a great family man. We also see the ruthless side of him in his dealings with traitors and snitches. Find out more about the life and times of Raymond Thompson in this amazing book, The Real King of Miami.

One of the things I admired about The Real King of Miami is the organizational structure, where the author begins Ray's story from the end and takes us back to the beginning for a better understanding. I appreciated the ease with which one can read The Real King of Miami. There is a mix of first-person and omniscient points of view, which readers will recognize and connect with. Unlike stories of other criminals, we see Raymond in a different light: as a person who can be vulnerable and has other qualities that the public may not know. Above all, readers learn a great deal from reading this book as people can see the repercussions of involving themselves in illicit ventures and the dangers of associating with the wrong people. The Real King of Miami entertains, educates, and makes people reflect on the impact of their choices. This is a must-read for true crime fans.

Pikasho Deka

If you love true crime stories, grab a copy of The Real King of Miami. This is the story of the infamous South Florida drug kingpin Raymond "Li'l Ray" Thompson. Author Eric Sande has been fascinated by Ray's legend since he was a kid. Sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and other drug-related charges, fifteen of those spent on Death Row, Ray made a name for himself on the South Coast as the numero uno importer of illegal marijuana in the 70s and 80s. At his peak, Ray's life comprised days full of hard partying, women, drugs, and building a drug-fuelled empire. But it all came crashing down when he was incarcerated for the murder of his long-term associate Jimmy Savoy and ordering the executions of Robert Arnold Vogt and William Timothy Harris.

The Real King of Miami is one of those true crime stories that wouldn't look out of place on the silver screen. Ray "Li'l Ray" Thompson is a larger-than-life personality who feels like a character straight out of one of Martin Scorsese's gangster movies. The narrative is uncompromising and relentlessly brutal. From the very first page, as a reader, you are thrust into this world with people committing horrific acts and indulging in excesses and debauchery. However, despite the dark subject matter, author Eric Sande manages to bring a sense of humanity to Ray's motivations and actions, especially concerning his dynamics with his close friends and family. I enjoyed the book and recommend it to fans of true crime stories and historical biographies.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

The Real King of Miami is a true crime story based on a score of interviews Eric Sande had with Raymond "Little Ray" Thompson during Thompson's years of incarceration. At the height of his criminal career, Thompson was smuggling drugs, using drugs, and running an escort service. He had rooms full of cash and a heavy cocaine dependency, and he had to keep a close eye on every associate. Sande interviewed Thompson in the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, and spoke with him for years, developing a bond with him, asking difficult questions, and getting straightforward answers. The author reveals the information he gleaned about tensions in Thompson's group, party habits, gambling, betrayal, and murder.

Eric Sande will have readers stunned as they flip through the pages of this book! You won't want to miss a single sentence as each chapter describes the private life and dealings of a man who seemed to have unlimited money and power. The story will hook readers from the first page as Sande retells the intense circumstances surrounding three murders and touches on other crimes. Not only will you be able to envision Thompson in his prime, but you will also see him through Sande's eyes so you can develop a clearer picture of the man who built a drug empire in Miami. Sande is passionate about his work, and it shows in every detail of the book. Readers who are fans of true crime with graphic scenes and dialog should read The Real King of Miami from cover to cover.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

The Real King of Miami by Eric Sande is the story of convicted murderer Ray "Li'l Ray" Thompson. Ray Thompson had everything he could possibly want: riches beyond belief, houses and cars, women falling over him, and drugs whenever he wanted them. Once known as "The Real Scarface," Ray Thompson wound up at the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution in Florida, awaiting his fate on Death Row. What made the man who had everything commit such heinous crimes that the State had no choice but to sentence him to death? Now, after several interviews with Eric Sande, the truth comes out. This book presents to you the real Ray Thompson, a book that delves deep into Thompson's mind and reveals the chilling truth in full detail. This is a no-holds-barred account that will send shivers down your spine.

The Real King of Miami by Eric Sande is a thrilling read. A true story written after several interviews, this book takes you into the mind of Ray Thompson, revealing the complicated life of a cold-blooded killer. This is a chilling tale of large-scale drug smuggling, the gangster world, and murder. It's an intriguing story written in a way that truly pulls you in, almost like you are reading a top-notch thriller. The detail is second to none, and by the end of it, you will know Li’l Ray as well as if he were a member of your own family. Eric Sande is a true storyteller with a real ability to hold a reader's attention. This is a story of choices and consequences, packed with suspense. It's a really gritty read from start to finish. If you like true crime stories, you'll love this one.

Natalie Soine

The Real King of Miami by Eric Sande is a gripping true crime book that delves into the life of convicted murderer Raymond M. "Li'l Ray" Thompson. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of 1980s South Florida, a time marked by excess, drugs, and the pursuit of the American dream. Eric Sande, who grew up in the same community, captures the essence of the era with vivid descriptions of the association between suburban life and the pervasive influence of drugs and crime. The story revolves around Thompson's involvement in heinous crimes, including ordering the executions of multiple individuals. Despite the luxurious trappings of his life – fast cars, beautiful houses, and unimaginable wealth – Raymond Thompson finds himself on Death Row, prompting the question: how did it all go so wrong?

Author Eric Sande weaves a compelling narrative by drawing on interviews with Raymond Thompson himself, offering readers an unfiltered and raw account of the events that led to Thompson's downfall. The author combines the allure of the '80s South Florida lifestyle with the chilling details of Thompson's crimes, creating a narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. The Real King of Miami not only serves as a true crime exploration but also provides a window into the societal and cultural dynamics of the time. From the lure of easy money to the impact of poverty on ordinary lives, and the murder of Jimmy, Sande paints a comprehensive picture of the era and the complex characters of Thompson, Rabbit, Pat, and Vegas. Sande's meticulous storytelling and deep dive into the criminal underworld make this true crime work a captivating and thought-provoking read. I would recommend this incredible book to adults only.