First-person account of the author’s 26 years infiltrating gangs, organized-crime syndicates and other groups of lawbreakers.
Hamer entered the FBI in 1980 after attending law school and serving in the Marine Corps as a judge advocate. He volunteered for undercover work, drawing strength for this demanding job from his devoted wife and children, and from “an unwavering belief that God, for whatever reason and however undeserved, had wrapped His protective arms around me.” As with every book of this ilk, it is difficult to verify the details; the author notes that the Bureau required him to submit the manuscript for pre-publication review and ordered that the names of all FBI agents be deleted. Hamer’s account, however, rings truer than many other books by undercover law-enforcement agents. Bravado is almost entirely absent, and a ruminative vein runs through the case accounts. The author worked undercover to expose the criminal activities of Los Angeles-based street gangs, plus various ethnic-centered organized-crime groups, including Sicilians, Mexicans, Russians and Asians. The main narrative thread concerns his infiltration of the North American Man/Boy Love Association. The group’s members, adult men who desired sexual relations with boys, usually pre-teens, apparently convinced themselves that these relationships were not merely carnal and were in violation of the law only because of narrow-minded legislators, judges and police officers. Working the case year after year sickened Hamer, but he explains that he reined in his anger by keeping in mind the importance of convicting such predators. To his credit, he portrays most of his targets as complicated human beings, rather than simple perverts. A few lengthy rehashes of conversations with his targets seem superfluous, but in general Hamer keeps the narrative interesting. Especially educational is his depiction of the lengths to which undercover agents must go to gather admissible evidence for an indictment and a trial.
Above-average entry in the My Life Undercover genre.