THE PENA FILES by Octavio G. Pena


One Man's War Against Corruption and the Abuse of Power
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 In an account burdened by hazy reportage and sloppy writing, private investigator Pe§a's caseload, dazzling though it may be, reads like so many tall tales. Pe§a, an investigator with the detective agency Lynch International since 1966, gives the inside scoop on some of his investigations--the case of the Frito Lay kickbacks, the nasty corporate espionage war between Jordache and Guess? Jeans. With two coauthors in addition to Pe§a, the narrative clearly suffers from the too-many-cooks syndrome; Pe§a's ``files'' are an awkward meld of B-movie dialogue (``Man, was I naãve'') and amateurish attempts at setting the scene. The first few chapters, which focus on organized crime as represented by the the Scallino and Franzese families, seem included less for their value or relevance than for the fact that Matera, who covered these particular goombahs in his book Quitting the Mob, clearly enjoys the story. The dozens of references to 500-lb. head goon Larry Iorizzo as ``the fat man'' grow wearisome, and unsubtle insights like ``Everybody knows that attorneys have the morals of alley cats'' are scattered through the tough-talking text. Some of the later cases, particularly the Jordache-Marciano crime, promise a fascinating look at the tangled web connecting the IRS, private industry, big politics, and the media. But the intricacies of the case are lost amid glossed-over details, cornball dialogue, and Pe§a's frantic push to let readers know how bad the cops and the FBI are, compared with him. With three authors, it might be expected that at least one could have managed to show rather than tell. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-039175-8
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1996


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