Tough-talking memoir of a street cop turned detective who battled the druglords of New York City’s Lower East Side.
Alphaville, or Alphabet City, may now resemble “Epcot center, or one of those streets in southern college towns where kids go to get drunk on weekends,” but, as NYPD stalwart Codella—paired with musician and ghostwriter Bennett—writes, it wasn’t always that way. Before the Dinkins and Giuliani cleanup-and-sanitization operations in the distant late ’80s, the “Loisaida” was the turf of a particularly tough bunch of hoods who sold drugs and committed extremely brutal murders; one collected the eyes and teeth of his victims in a mayonnaise jar, apparently just for grins. Enter Codella, descended from wise guys, cops and good citizens—in short, a normal Italian boy from Brooklyn, but with a particular bent for the street and urge to clean things up himself. He found his nemesis and match early on in drug kingpin “Davey Blue Eyes,” who always seemed to be a step ahead of the good guys, managing even to get away from a seemingly impenetrable ring of armed cops. Now nicknamed “Rambo,” Codella and his partner spent their waking hours bringing the criminals to justice, with a finely honed sense of indignation: “I felt like the only law that mattered, and these fuckers had broken it…they were fucking with me just by existing, just by what they were doing to the people around them.” The upshot, however, is worthy of Serpico; it would spoil things to say more, but suffice it to say that Blue Eyes is probably still breathing free air somewhere.
Codella secures justice of a sort in this taut true-crime tale, which varies from by-the-numbers to genuinely exciting.