LOVE OR HONOR: The True Story of an Undercover Cop by Joan Barthel

LOVE OR HONOR: The True Story of an Undercover Cop

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Crime-writer Barthel (A Death in Canaan; A Death in California) now trains her reportorial eye on crimes of the heart: an undercover cop charged with infiltrating the Mafia falls for the Mafia boss's daughter. Chris Anastos, a fiery young N.Y.C. cop, reluctantly accepts an assignment to infiltrate a Greek neighborhood in Queens to explore a suspected tie between seemingly disorganized Greek illegal operations and the Mafia. Chris starts hanging out in Greek cafes, soon making a deal to sell stolen TVs. Slowly, boyishly likable Chris gets a sanction from the local Greek godfather to open an after-hours club. It's here, in his very own seedy bar, that the tenuous link between the Mafia and the mavericks of the Greek community begins to appear. Manipulating his new-found friends, Chris gets to meet a connected Mafia guy, and under his seasoned tutelage comes to operate a number of Mafia gambling ventures. The N.Y.P.D. hungers for hard evidence against the quiet types in business suits, the Mafia men who live on Long Island and insulate themselves from the law with layers of legitimate business. At a wedding reception on Long Island, Chris hits the jackpot: he is instantly infatuated with the beautiful young daughter of a Mafia boss named John. Telling himself he can keep his wife and "real" life separate from this dangerous pretend life, he falls hopelessly in love--so much so that he is unable to hand John over to the police. Finally, torn between love and his honor, he allows himself to be yanked from the Mafia beat. Deserted by his wife and desperately sick with cancer, he struggles to find some solid center, some honorable core, as he prepares to lose his identity again and again. Barthel uses good, reportorial details to build a compelling drama about love and the strange, elastic nature of identity. An absorbing read, likely to appeal to a wide audience.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1989
ISBN: 688-07485-5
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
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