COVERT by Bob Delaney

COVERT

My Years Infiltrating the Mob

KIRKUS REVIEW

Delaney chronicles his three years as an undercover agent, their difficult aftermath, and his professional rebirth as an NBA referee.

In 1973, the author followed his father into the New Jersey State Police. He climbed the ranks from rural police officer to state trooper and in 1975 was recruited for Project Alpha, a joint FBI/State Police operation investigating the Jersey mafia. Assuming the name Bobby Covert, he pretended to run a sham company called Alamo Trucking, through which he and mobster-turned-whistleblower Pat Kelly tried to ensnare the bad guys without getting found out—or rubbed out. Delaney lived to testify against many of the mobsters rounded up by Project Alpha and at later Senate hearings on waterfront corruption. He found re-entry into conventional law enforcement difficult, however, and had some turbulent years before molding himself into a respected NBA referee. A solid yarn spinner with a fine eye for detail and an excellent memory, Delaney makes his memoir read like a novel. The experiences he describes bear obvious similarities to those of Joe Pistone, who infiltrated New York’s Bonnano crime family under the name Donnie Brasco (later the title of Pistone’s book and a subsequent movie); in fact, the two men met after their respective operations were over. But Delaney’s Jersey-eye-view of his life in and out of the force—and on and off the basketball court—is distinctive enough to make comparisons irrelevant. NBA followers looking for dirt on Shaq and Kobe will be disappointed; the author devotes only one chapter exclusively to his NBA years. But those who appreciate a good Cosa Nostra story, and crime buffs in general, will find much to enjoy in this energetic, often humorous and always entertaining memoir.

A slam dunk, a bull’s eye and any other glowing Mafia or basketball metaphor you can think of.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4027-5443-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Union Square/Sterling
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2007