An insider peep into the New York--New Jersey crime networks. With the help of Wagman (The Nazi Hunters, not reviewed),...


BLOOD OATH: The Heroic Story of a Gangster Turned Government Agent Who Brought Down One of America's Most Powerful Mob Families

An insider peep into the New York--New Jersey crime networks. With the help of Wagman (The Nazi Hunters, not reviewed), former wiseguy Fresolone begins his gritty confessions of life as a mobster with the hair-raising scene of his own induction ceremony into the Bruno crime family. Fresolone is already working for the Feds and has strapped to his body more than one tape recorder. It is to be the first-ever taping of a Mafia initiation ceremony -- complete with the blood-letting from the initiate's finger. In the old days, Fresolone laments, they used to mop up the blood with fragments of a saint's picture; now they ""make do"" with tissue paper. The Mob was everything the young Fresolone hoped for growing up in the Down Neck section of Newark. Down Neck was controlled by the powerful Bruno family based in Philadelphia, run nominally by the ""reluctant don"" Angelo Bruno, a mild and compromising kind of man. The real power, though, was the fearsome Tony Bananas, with ""Patty Specs,"" i.e. Pasquale Martirano, as his underboss. After Bananas had Bruno assassinated, he assumed control of the Bruno family enterprise and became our hero's employer. The relation was a tense one. In the end, Fresolone seems to have felt intense personal loyalty only to Specs, a man already dying of liver cancer. Fresolone points out that interfamily murder and strife is comparatively rare these days. It is, rather, internal family violence that is the current curse of Mob hierarchies and that seems to have most affected Fresolone. Eventually, his collaboration with the Feds brought in almost 40 major Mob figures, a fact of which he seems genuinely proud, as if it is a just retribution for what he sees as the Mafia's betrayal of its own principles of loyalty and honor. Not a prose masterpiece, but the genuine article as far as Mob documents go. With its personal touch and its relentless detail, it's a solidly alarming read.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994


Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994