THE INSIDER by Donald Goddard


The FBI's Undercover 'Wiseguy' Goes Public
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 Knockout indictment of FBI incompetence at nailing mobsters even when the criminals are handed up fried on a plate; by the author of Undercover: The Secret Lives of an FBI Agent (1988), etc. Goddard makes his case by telling the life of one Billy Breen, an ex-cop who did seven years for bank robbery, armed robbery, and bookmaking and then turned undercover informer for the FBI. In 1985, Rudolph Giuliani, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, brought indictments against eight hoods from five local families, plus seven other ``civilians'' not part of the families. Had Giuliani followed the advice of chief informant Breen, Goddard says, all the defendants in likelihood would have been convicted; instead, only the lesser fry were, while the four top hoods walked. And this is only one example of how Goddard/Breen show bureaucratic greed outfoxing itself time and again as FBI teams at the local or state level fail to overcome internal rivalries and work together on an interstate or national level. Breen--who suffered an enduring trauma during WW II when he was caught in a flow of rotting flesh from a roomful of drowned seamen--became a cop in Somerville, Mass., only to witness the entire police force not only on the take but committing burglaries and robberies. He refused to go along, became a pariah, eventually had to take the fall for a gang or watch the gang kill his wife and three kids. In prison, the ex-cop was the target for every psycho around, but he gained an in with gangs. Once free, Breen spent the next 25 years ``outside the law'' as a gang member secretly making the FBI aware of cocaine and marijuana shipments and other crimes--though the FBI is shown here as bungling left and right and slipping on its own banana peels. Exciting and withering. Spectacular dialogue.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-70335-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1991