Books by Robert Leuci

Released: July 1, 2004

"A shrewd confessional by a knowing veteran—and a helluva cop book."
Archetypal street-smart cop Leuci (Blaze, 1999, etc.) initiates us into the workings of the brotherhood of New York's finest a generation ago. Read full book review >
BLAZE by Robert Leuci
Released: Nov. 9, 1999

A hard-pressed female cop battles criminals in and out of the NYPD in this latest of Leuci's savvy police dramas (The Snitch, 1997, etc.). When the Chief of Detectives gives his lead investigator a job to do, she does it, no questions asked. That doesn't mean questions don't occur to Captain Nora Ritter. Dispatch a senior officer to check out a loan shark? Something doesn't add up. Pretty soon, though, the pieces begin to fit together. It's love, Nora learns, top-brass style. Blaze Longo, the loan shark, has been leaning on small-time gambler Alfred Nieri, who just happens to be the dad of Roseann Palumbo, who just happens to be the Chief's main squeeze. Roseann wants the loan shark to leave daddy alone, and what Roseann wants, Roseann gets—hence Captain Nora's trip to the mean streets of Brooklyn's Red Hook District. But Blaze Longo isn't just a loan shark; he's an authentic sociopath. He cuts off ears, for instance, for the simple joy of it and has a portable collection of his trophies available for instant display. Moreover, there's a scam he's running with his sociopathic opposite number—a veteran cop, much decorated, but every bit Longo's match in savagery. For the sake of her career, not to mention her very survival, Nora has to smash this unholy alliance. To help in the task, she forms her own alliance with Nick Ossman, an unemployed actor who's known Blaze since they were Red Hook kids. Ad hoc and a little desperate, it's a pairing that turns out to be surprisingly effective, paying off with a personal bonus as well. Leuci's Nick and Nora are as far from Dashiell Hammett's as grit is from wit. Still, his duo here has undeniable appeal, strong enough to drive this inelegant but compelling novel. Read full book review >
THE SNITCH by Robert Leuci
Released: March 25, 1997

Acting on intelligence from a snitch, New York City's finest stage a raid on a Latino nightclub in 1979, triggering a dramatic if far-fetched vendetta that's not resolved for over a decade in a twisty tour de force from Leuci (Fence Jumpers, 1995, etc.). Tipped by Cuban ÇmigrÇ Rodrigo Punto that the proprietors of Los Campos are trafficking in guns and dope, detective Nick Manaris obtains a warrant for the Organized Crime Control Unit to search the popular Queens bistro. The off-hours bust degenerates into a shoot-out that leaves two police officers and several suspects dead. Also a casualty is Diego Cienfuego, an innocent falsely identified by the cuckolded Punto as a power in the local drug trade; he's hauled off to Rikers Island and brutally murdered on orders from the hardened offenders who've already killed Punto. In addition, DEA agents put the real villains of the piece, Benny Matos and his Colombian accomplice Cano, in the federal witness- protection program. Despite the operation's tragically inconclusive outcomes, all hands benefit to some extent. Along with Sonny McCabe (a silky-smooth lawman probably on the take), incorruptible Nick becomes an investigator for his mentor Andre. More than ten years later, the retired Sonny (now a celebrity author) is on the talk- show circuit while Nick soldiers on. At the same time, Natalia, the informant's widow, is preparing to take revenge on those she holds responsible for her husband's slaughter. Having helped in the assassination of lower-echelon hoods, Diego's comely daughter Maria Clara seduces Nick (whom the conspirators have marked for death). He soon figures out what she's up to, but faced with losing a last chance at happiness, Nick masterminds a scheme that, with an assist from the ambivalent Sonny, brings Benny and Cano to rough justice. Notwithstanding improbable plotting at the close, this is gritty, gripping fare from an ex-cop who knows the mean streets of Manhattan and also of the Big Apple's outer boroughs. Read full book review >
FENCE JUMPERS by Robert Leuci
Released: May 22, 1995

Leuci's best, a Mafia opera worthy of Verdi. Novelist and ex-cop Leuci (Double Edge, 1991, etc.), whose true history as an outcast NYPD undercover cop was told in Robert Daley's book and Sidney Lumet's film Prince of the City, stirs plenty of basil and garlic into a marvelously gripping, richly felt story of three childhood friends in Queens who grow up to be two cops and a Mafia don's son. They are hard-drinking, emotionally chaotic Detective Dante O'Donnell; his buddy in bugging and bagging Mafia hoods, Jimmy Burns (an emotionally sensitive David Caruso kinda cop); and Jojo Paradiso, son of Salvatore ``Sally Blue Eyes'' Paradiso, godfather of Queens. It's Jojo's father's rule that no drugs be sold by his family. But that rule costs the cash-poor family heavily, may well put it out of business, and weaken it for a takeover. Meanwhile, Dante, Jimmy, lesbian cop Kathy Gibbons, and older, Puerto Rican cop Ray Velasquez—all of the Organized Crime Control Bureau's intelligence team—stake out the heavily bugged Paradise family social club and transcribe family business. But federal agents also working the families inform the bureau's chief that not only have the feds planted a fence-jumper among the top Paradisos, but the Paradisos have a fence-jumper in the bureau. So fence-jumping goes on with Dante trying to turn Kathy into a hetero, and with Jojo silently going against his father's rule and entering into a fatal cocaine setup to boost the family's fortunes. Jojo doesn't know that Paradiso lawyer Barry Cooper, who sets up the cocaine deal for him, has been turned and that the big-time Spanish dealer is really a wired federal agent. Leuci works up thunderheads of loyalty and betrayal among these cops and between dangerous Jojo and softhearted Jimmy Burns, with Dante O'Donnell a quivering, just-released bowstring throughout. Most headily inspired scene: a crazed waitress leads Jojo safely through a ring of cops. Steamclouds of entertainment and great cooking. Read full book review >