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LERZA'S LIVES by John Danica


by John Danica & Lucy Freeman

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-05976-0
Publisher: St. Martin's

Here, first-time author Danica (pen name of a ``decorated ex- marine with a long law-enforcement background'') teams with veteran psychology writer Freeman for a novel about war memories—and about craven supervisors who complicate the task of an undercover FBI agent trying to bust the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra and a devil- worshiping, drug-dealing motorcycle gang at the same time. The war in Vietnam left FBI agent Joe Lerza with a couple of Purple Hearts, three Silver Stars, the Medal of Honor, and a very bad case of nerves when it comes to dealing with tense situations. Tense situations are, however, the order of the day when his double-dealing boss pulls Lerza off the Public Relations desk and assigns him to undercover work in South Philadelphia, where Lerza's ancestry and Sicilian language skills are to provide him with protective coloring. Under the control of capable and sexy agent Patty Masters, Lerza and his massive chum Moose Knepp pass themselves off as coke dealers to drug wholesaler Anthony Miceli, who hopes to move into the shoes of Don Miguel Amato, the local Cosa Nostra capo. The deeper Lerza sinks into his undercover role, the more Lerza is plagued by horrible war memories and the more he loses touch with his life as a respectable father and husband. A very worried Agent Masters tries to get Lerza pulled off the job, but he is too close to bagging Miceli and to busting the Satans, a mob of motorcyclists who intend to knock the Italians out of the drug business altogether. Still, Lerza may have met his match in Lucifer, the pill-popping chief Satan, a Marine deserter whose own war record is quite as shocking as Lerza's. Patty Masters takes unorthodox steps to render assistance. Moose stops many bullets. Not pretty, but it gets the job done. South Philadelphia is fresh territory and the new thug vs. old thug face-off works well.