The Professor, in this implausible 1950s melodrama, is NYU Prof. Joe Pastore--a streetwise guy from Brooklyn who's genuinely, nobly dedicated to teaching, devoting much of his free time to private tutoring. So, when Joe's family doctor introduces him to Albert Salvatore, whose son Al badly needs tutoring, Joe agrees to help the boy--even though Salvatore, Sr. is the notorious godfather of the N.Y. area Mafia! Believable enough, more or less--so far. Then, however, supposedly because he's so fascinated and challenged by the special problems of coaching Mafioso offspring, Joe quits his tenured position at NYU to become fulltime tutor to these problem teenagers. He ignores the obvious, reasonable anguish of his adored wife Anna; he ignores the possible danger to his teenage daughter Nancy (who's already being eyed by smart-alecky Al Salvatore, Jr.). What will it take before idiotic Joe realizes that he's made a mistake? Well, when Salvatore, Sr. is assassinated, with Nancy close by, Joe is upset, cursing ""the goddamned forces that insist on fucking up every good, strong move made by man."" Then, when the surviving Mafiosi start pressuring Joe to give them technical help with drug-processing, he decides to sever all connections whatsoever with the Mafia. Too late, of course: Joe gets badly beaten up; Anna has a nervous breakdown; Mafia threats escalate. And Joe winds up testifying before Congress. . . though he must take the Fifth to avoid angering the Mafiosi too much. Despite a promising basic idea: lame, sloppily written suspense from the author of two more ambitious thrillers, The Turncoat and The Factory.