Easy money is the name of the game in drugs. But in the early 1970s control of the business passed to the up-and-coming Black Mafia which moved in on the previously Italian domain. Chief mover was one Frank Matthews, exchicken thief from North Carolina, who became the new Luciano of dope. As European supply routes were disrupted, action shifted to Latin America and Miami's Cuban community. Enter George Ramos, Matthews' admiring lieutenant and the narrator of this story--the biggest and classiest tale of narcotics operations since The French Connection. Born into the nasty little world of Cuban exile politics, Ramos was on the make in the drug business by age 19; his Godfather was already a big wheel and where his Godfather went, George went. Quickly, they became Frank Matthews' conduits to Latin American coke and heroin sources, zipping from Haiti to Venezuela to New York with goods valued at millions on the street. Ramos, who has icewater in his veins, also has zero tolerance for bungling and small-time scores. He is charmed with Matthews, who radiates power (""It came off him like warmth from a stove""), and he's only too happy to supply the flamboyant new czar--seemingly invincible despite pink leather suits and floor-length mink coats. But the cops haven't been idle either in Venezuela or New York (Goddard makes theirs a parallel story) and suddenly Ramos, faced with the prospect of going down the tubes, agrees to sell out Matthews. Names, addresses, kilos bought and sold--it's all here in a top-notch, hard-nosed thriller with a thrust.