Cops vs. robbers in the Washington scare known as PFF, Inc.--Police-FBI Fencing, Incognito--an undercover operation that paid hard cash for hot goods and climaxed with a mass-arrest Sting. It must have encouraged as much theft as it checked, but Conconi and House don't ask questions: they begin the book with a trying series of disconnected background-friezes, and re-create the double-barreled con itself as a tendentious caper-drama. PFF opened more than three years ago, organized by Metropolitan Lt. Arscott who, not at all incidentally, was smarting from a Departmental smear and angling for glory. The Sting was his exercise in everyone-upmanship: staged at a ""party"" hosted by PFF's front-man to introduce the local talent to his big-league bosses, it netted two hundred area-thieves in the presence of assorted area-officials (District, suburban, even Federal). The Mafia cover--brainchild of the N.Y.P.D., an experienced source of pointers from the start--endowed PFF with prestige and protection; the requisite role-playing gave the con its cachet. Sgt. Pat Lilly, whose performance as front-man Pasquale Larocca was the critical one, came to identify with the persona he developed and sustained for some six months, and he suffered. Yet the authors just hint at why or how, betraying the poor sense of balance that upsets this even on its own cavalier novelistic/cinematic terms.