THE COFFEY FILES: One Cop's War Against the Mob by Joseph & Jerry Schmetterer Coffey

THE COFFEY FILES: One Cop's War Against the Mob

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Absorbing roundup of an ace NYPD detective's big cases. Here, written with the help of veteran journalist Schmetterer, is Coffey's view of what it was like to guard Joe Frazier from death threats before his first fight with Ali; to struggle to capture Croatian nationalists who bombed La Guardia (one cop killed) and hijacked a TWA flight to Paris; and to supervise the team trying desperately to nab Son of Sam before he killed again. In 1978, Coffey was named head of N.Y.C.'s first organized-crime squad--but ""let the vermin destroy the vermin"" was the department's view, and Coffey was told his squad would be in existence only 30 days: It was formed as a favor to Mayor Koch, who wanted the public outcry against shootings on city streets appeased. But after Coffey solved two big mob cases, the squad was made permanent and Coffey went after the Westies, an Irish gang operating out of Heirs Kitchen and considered by the detective the ""most vicious mad-dog killers in the city."" Coffey discovered what no had suspected--an Italian-Irish connection: The Mafia was hiring the Westies to do strong-arm jobs and contract killings. Coffey barged into the Ravenite Social Club and demanded to see ""Big Paulie"" Castellano, then the elderly and dignified capo di tutti capi. Five button men playing poker stared at the crazy cop in disbelief, but a sit-clown was arranged. Exciting scenarios, all--but although well written and packed with detail, the book shortchanges its characters, many of whom are only names. And Coffey is shown as a two-dimensional macho man, with a few squibs on his wife and kids thrown in for sympathy. Still: new information on big cases, revelations on NYPD interdepartmental politics, and a rogues' gallery of coldblooded hit men and devious madmen: cop watchers are going to like this, despite its flaws.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's