BODY MIKE: An Unsparing Expos‚ by the Mafia Insider Who Turned on the Mob by Joseph & Thomas C. Renner Cantalupo

BODY MIKE: An Unsparing Expos‚ by the Mafia Insider Who Turned on the Mob

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A hard-boiled briefing on mob life from a small-time hood with big connections who turned federal witness; very much in the vein of coauthor's Renner's best-selling My Life in the Mafia (1973, and Vincent Teresa) and Mafia Princess (1984, and Antoinette Giancana). Born with a crooked spoon in his mouth, Cantalupo associated early on with the curdled cream of Brooklyn mobdom. Whether his dad was a ""goodfellow""--official Mafia member-- or not, Cantalupo can't or won't say, but legendary tough guys like Joe Colombo and Carmine Persico frequented Cantalupo Realty, a money-laundering front as well as bona-fide real-estate office where Cantalupo learned his venal, sometimes bloody, trade. In smooth prose lightly salted with street slang (""I thought, I'll be a son of a bitch. Everybody got a piece,"" etc.), Cantalupo details his rise through the exo-Mafia ranks (he never became a ""made"" guy)--a sorry tale of con games, extortion, and strong-arming. Lacking the savvy and, by his account, the nastiness to claw to the top--the high-living Cantalupo had a dangerous habit of sleeping unknowingly with mobsters' girlfriends, and fell into serious financial debt--he finally succumbed in 1973 to longtime pressure from the feds and turned informer (""I couldn't be a wiseguy, but maybe I could be an underworld spy""), a role he played with aplomb until pressured into wearing a wire. It's Cantalupo's death-defying wired meets with top Mafioso in N.Y.C. ""social clubs"" that provide this memoir's tense climax--and that have led to the jailing of several top gangsters, and to Cantalupo's fleeing around the country--in and out of the Witness Protection Program--from one secret residence to the next; he's still in hiding, and still spying on local mobsters for the feds. Amoral, self-serving--and fascinating, like watching a rattlesnake under glass.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Villard/Random House