DR. SNOW: How the F.B.I. Nailed an Ivy League Coke King by Carol Saline

DR. SNOW: How the F.B.I. Nailed an Ivy League Coke King

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The second book in a year about the rise and fall of Larry Lavin, dental student turned major-league cocaine wholesaler. Lavin grew up in a depressed Massachusetts mill town, a smart kid who stole for kicks and won a scholarship to Exeter. He enrolled at the Univ. of Penn. in the potsmoking heyday of the early 70's, and started dealing for pocket money. His offhand charm, organizational zeal, and fight-place-right-time luck caused his sideline business to flourish. While at Penn dental school, Lavin switched over to more lucrative cocaine. His runners made the buys in Miami and smuggled it up to Philly, where it was carefully cut, packaged, and dispersed through a sales network that spread through New England. Mark Stewart, a slippery local business man, was given Lavin's huge earnings to launder. Meanwhile, F.B.I. agent Chuck Reed, investigating fraud charges against Stewart, became convinced that Lavin was selling drugs. With agent Sid Perry, he interviewed Lavin's gang, and slowly amassed the evidence to get approval to wiretap select suspects. Lavin was arrested, but he jumped bail and spirited his family off to Virginia Beach, where they set up life under an assumed name. Reed and Perry remained obsessed. They convinced former Lavin cohorts to become government witnesses and tracked down the tiniest clues till they finally got their man. Mark Bowden's Doctor Dealer (1987) offers a much more riveting character portrait of Lavin, but Saline (a Philadelphia Magazine editor) contributes a look at the combination of creativity and super-boring detail work that busted the ring. Despite occasionally sloppy prose, a real-life cat-and-mouse tale that keeps the pages turning.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1988
Publisher: New American Library