An outspoken biography of Vito Genovese, head of the Mafia, is based on official transcripts, known facts, as well as some of Frasca's ""personal contacts"" from his own childhood in the same area in which Genovese operated. If he finds nothing to excuse in Genovese, he finds Genovese's political connections (de Sapio, O'Dwyer, etc.) just as unforgivable in making possible his career. Without question, Vito, from the time when as a boy he came to America and New York's lower East Side, led a charmed life of crime; the occasional charges against him were always circumvented; he took an eight year ""vacation"" in Italy during the war while his wife, Anna, ran a lottery in the apartment over that of Mrs. Roosevelt's; he kept his tight hold on many rackets, got his acquittal on a murder charge by killing off a witness jailed for security- presumably; and has survived others better known in the history of the Mafia- Barbara, Anastasia, Costello. A good deal about the Mafia is included in Genovese's story- along with a directory of its members, their affiliations and offenses.... A blunt to emphatic account- the question here will be whether crime not only pays- but pays off twice in view of the recent success of Frederic Sondern's Brotherhood of Evil (Farrar, Straus) -- a livelier crimefile.