JOE DOGS by Joseph Iannuzzi


The Life and Crimes of a Mobster
Email this review


 Another ex-mobster tells all, with panache. A Port Chester, New York, native who earned a Purple Heart in Korea, Iannuzzi became a player relatively late in life. In 1966, at age 35, he was doing minor bookie-work on Long Island, but it was only after he moved to Florida in 1968 that his lawless career took off, with a phone call from Gambino Family soldier Tommy ``T.A.'' Agro, who was looking to expand his shylocking operation- -and who gave Iannuzzi his nickname of ``Joe Dogs'' after two nights at the local dog track. Agro took Iannuzzi under his wing, and soon the author was in the thick of the dirty action, shylocking, pimping, robbing, running betting scams, moving drugs, making tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. It was a wild life of scheming, nightclubbing, boozing, and sleeping with hordes of ``baby dolls'' (despite an enduring marriage and a daughter), and Iannuzzi describes it in short, punchy chapters salted with plenty of slang and obscenity. But it was also a life drenched in violence--Iannuzzi often acted as enforcement muscle--and finally, it was the author's blood that ran after he fell behind on loan payments to Agro, a certifiable sociopath who, along with two imported ``sluggers,'' beat Iannuzzi nearly to death and then called him up to gloat (``I got people that will eat the fucking eyes out of your fucking head!''). Enraged, the author swore revenge and began cooperating with the FBI, teaming up with a deep-cover informant and wearing a wire that eventually brought down several major mobsters, including Agro, and that got Iannuzzi into the Witness Protection Program. Not as electrifying as William Hoffman and Lake Headley's Contract Killer (1992), but Iannuzzi's colorfully crass story offers one of the most grittily detailed inside-views of daily mob life since Nicholas Pileggi's Wiseguy (1985). (Sixteen pages of b&w photos--not seen)

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-79752-2
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993