THE PROFESSIONAL FENCE by Carl B. Klockars

THE PROFESSIONAL FENCE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Virtually the only study of ""fencing"" as seen from the inside, with a minimum of historical background (and much of that derived from the true life adventures of Jonathan Wild, as immortalized by Fielding) and a maximum of real-life documentation of a pseudonymous ""Vincent Swaggi,"" who has run a successful business in stolen goods in an unnamed city for more than a quarter of a century. Klockars, a sociologist, analyzes the near-genius shrewdness with which Swaggi deals with both crooks (bargaining down -- generally by taking advantage of the thief's ignorance of merchandise, market and mathematical skills) and cops (what with phony bills of sale, claims of entrapment, and good PR, a charge of ""receiving stolen goods"" is virtually impossible to prove). But every game must be played by two, and of particular fascination is the psychology of the buyer, turned on by the glamour of crime even when the goods (as is often the case) are legitimately obtained. As for Swaggi, he is a relatively benign and likable stereotype with that peculiar Italian penchant for combining tough-mindedness with the grossest sort of sentimentality; as for his wholesaling, the liberal-minded professor can find no valid reason for the average Joe not to buy stolen merchandise -- even as he half-heartedly condemns the practice of the trade.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1974
Publisher: Free Press