A retired undercover agent’s story.
Born into an immigrant family in New York and inspired by the well-publicized drug bust celebrated in The French Connection, Diaz assembled just the right background for police work in New York, including the ability to speak a couple of languages, a streetwise air and military service—though he made the error of admitting to an examiner with a bone to pick that he’d smoked pot once or twice. Still, he got in through the back door, joining the ATF and later working with the DEA. He entered service just in time to take down a once-renowned bad guy named Nicky Barnes. “With his broad shoulders, his handsome, sharply chiseled features, and his trademark tinted-gogglelike Gucci eyeglasses, he could have passed for a Hollywood actor or a fashion model,” write Diaz and co-writer Hirschfeld in this by-the-numbers moment. In memoirs of this sort, all bad guys are godlike, but their innate evil proves their undoing; Barnes is no exception, for he “was pure, unadulterated evil.” Working streets and informants, Diaz brought Barnes down, but not without having to deal with slimy lawyers and the inconveniences of trial by jury: “It was one thing to be out on the street, doing my dance with the devil. It was a whole other to be held accountable in court for what I had done.” Barnes disappears with a few dozen pages to go, whereupon Diaz ventures into less fraught territory, battling evil on a Hollywood soundstage and protecting the likes of Steven Seagal from the Ruby Ridge crowd.
Merely serviceable, offering few surprises—much less vigorously written than Michael Codella and Bruce Bennett’s Alphaville (2010), which covers some of the same ground.