THE DOCTOR BROAD: A Mafia Love Story
by Barbara Roberts
September 2019 – Heliotrope (US)
For decades starting in the 1950s, Raymond Patriarca ran the New England Mafia out of a storefront in Federal Hill, the Italian neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island.
By 1980 he was seventy-two years old, and suffering from diabetes and heart disease. One night in December of that year his life intersected with that of Dr. Barbara Roberts, a thirty-six-year old single mother of three, who was the first female cardiologist to practice in Rhode Island.
Asked by Raymond’s wife and son to check on him when they couldn’t reach his usual doctor, Barbara entered a looking glass world, a naïve Alice in Wonderland in a parallel universe populated by pitfalls, moral ambiguities and dangers for which her devout upbringing had not prepared her. How did a former Catholic schoolgirl from a working-class family become the physician and defender of one Mafioso, and the mistress of another? How did her children handle these scandalous associations and often hostile publicity—and what were the reactions of their fathers?
Expanding on the story first told in the popular Crimetown podcast, this memoir is a tale of motherhood, political activism, controversy, heartbreak and survival; it traces one woman’s trajectory against the backdrop of America’s 20th century upheavals.
Dr. Barbara Roberts graduated from Barnard College and Case Western Reserve University Medical School. She has been on the clinical faculty of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University since 1977, and is currently the Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine. She serves on the Women’s Day magazine Heart Health Advisory Board, was ranked in Rhode Island Monthly magazine’s “Top Doctors for Women” in 2003, 2007, and 2009, and in Women’s Health magazine’s “Top Doctors for Women” in 2008. She has received numerous other awards and honors, and is the author of THE TRUTH ABOUT STATINS: Risks and Alternatives to Cholesterol-lowering Drugs (Simon & Schuster, 2012), as well as two earlier books. She’s also been covered repeatedly in the New England media, who love printing stories about her mob connections.