Mafia retirees do battle with a new generation of Asian heroin traffickers in this stupefyingly overwritten thriller by Tosches (Dino, 1992, etc.). For years, Johnny Di Pietro, a negotiator for the sanitation workers' union in Brooklyn, has killed time by helping knock off the occasional Puerto Rican drug dealer for loose change, dreaming of leaving his loveless marriage, and planning how he'd someday grab a vaguely envisioned brass ring that would lift him out of his dead-end existence. His big chance comes when his Uncle Joe, a tough-minded Mafia veteran, recruits him for a multi-billion-dollar scheme to take back control of the heroin industry from the Asian drug lords now running New York City. Moving Johnny into a swank Upper East Side apartment, flying him to Hong Kong, Burma, and Rome, teasing him with promises of infinite wealth and unlimited freedom, Joe teaches Johnny to lie, steal, and kill to win the fortune at the end of the heroin rainbow. As he brokers international arms deals, murders traitorous colleagues, and plays cat-and-mouse games with foreign dignitaries plying the smack trade, Johnny discovers that the vacuum where his heart used to be can easily be filled with money, power, and the satisfying spectacle of other people's deaths. While negotiating to buy two-thirds of the world's supply of heroin at wholesale prices, Johnny and his cohorts become so preoccupied with identifying the betrayers in their midst that they fail to discern the fate that the Asian dealers have planned for them. But God is apparently on the side of the Italians, as bombs explode in vain, would-be Asian assassins are destroyed, and Johnny walks through the carnage like a blessed man. Tosches's torture scenes are less nauseating than his literary pretensions.