A vivid portrait of a New York mobster-turned-government witness, and the wife and two superjock sons who followed him into the Federal Witness Protection Program. Sal Polisi hijacked fur trucks, sold stolen jewelry, and otherwise did business with two of New York's major crime families. But by 1984, he has distanced himself from most of the heavy stuff. He runs a Long Island kart-racing track, cheers his sons on the football field, and deals a little coke to help make ends meet. Then he's busted. Faced with a 35-year sentence, he can't bear the thought that his doing time will harm his sons' athletic careers. So he proposes a deal to get his sentence dropped: he volunteers to wear a wire and collect evidence against former cronies, including a judge who fixed an earlier case for him. Polisi thrives on the deception and bravado that setting traps requires: ""I've got a jones for excitement,"" he says. His side of the bargain done, the Polisis leave home, pets, and friends behind, and are officially given new identities. Football triumphs for the boys ease the transition--until Sal can't resist fiddling with the rules and the family gets kicked out of the Program. Taylor, a free-lance journalist, alternates straight narrative with Sal Jr.'s first-person reminiscences: although this device conveys the confusion of a smart kid trying to come to terms with his loving dad's criminal tendencies, the many sides of Sal Sr.--his charm, disregard for the law, devotion to his kids, and selfishness--are what really fascinate. There's little inside dope on mob workings, but this detail-stuffed family snapshot is a sharply focused view of the rewards and costs of trying to get ahead on the periphery of the Mafia.