From organized crime specialist DeStefano (Mob Killer, 2011, etc.), a convoluted exploration of the career of Mafioso Vincent Basciano, who is currently serving a life sentence in a Supermax facility.
The author opens not with Basciano, but with a minor player in New York's Bonanno family who was executed for having a big mouth and a brash presence. His death is his connection to the story; it was ordered by none other than Basciano, who later admitted as much to his own boss in prison. The man was wearing a wire, so DeStefano is able to recount their conversation word-for-word, which makes for a dramatic, promising launch to his narrative. However, the author then muddies the waters by adding layer upon layer of mob history, obscuring Basciano’s trajectory. DeStefano gives so much background information about the Mafia in New York that the book becomes a jumble of names and crimes. Thrilling tales are glossed over, offering tantalizing glimpses of dramas that intrigue but take readers' minds off the purported subject. It's difficult to see how all these tidbits fit into Basciano’s story, if they belong there at all. Eventually, after nearly 200 pages, the narrative lands squarely back on Basciano, and the pace picks up with his arrest and multiple trials. DeStefano's prose is clearer in this section, cohesively describing the trials, legal strategies and lawyers, revealing previously unseen aspects of Basciano's character as he fought to avoid the death penalty. (Convicted of two separate murders in 2007 and 2011, he got off with life imprisonment in both cases.) Unfortunately, these insights come too late in the text and are not fully developed, so Basciano’s legacy in the world of organized crime remains unclear.
Enthusiasts likely already know the details of Basciano’s trials, and casual readers will be better served by other, clearer accounts.