An autobiography that focuses on a New York City police officer’s service over more than two decades.
Debut author Pesce was born in 1942 in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, and he spent parts of his childhood in Brighton Beach and Coney Island. His father served in World War II, and his mother later abandoned the family when the author was only 10; Pesce wouldn’t see her again for 35 years. After attending New York Community College, where he met his future wife, and serving a stint in the U.S. Army Reserve, he entered the police academy in 1966. The author worked in a narcotics division, a street-crime unit, a unit devoted to crimes against senior citizens, and a special task force assembled to investigate police corruption. He also eventually worked in every borough of the city except the Bronx. He was promoted to sergeant in 1973 and made lieutenant in 1985, four years before his retirement. Pesce then obtained a private investigator’s license and eventually opened his own private security business. Along the way, he married and had three children, but the focus of this tale is on his experience as a cop during a few of the city’s most crime-ridden decades, before officers had walkie-talkies or cellphones, SWAT-team backup, or access to counseling services; regarding the latter, the author sometimes refers to the therapeutic comfort that he received from “Dr. Jack Daniels.” Pesce’s writing is informal and anecdotal, and the memoir offers many harrowing tales of police work that include shootings, dead bodies, corruption, and attempted suicides. The author intelligently depicts the venomous disdain that members of the general public had for cops during those turbulent years, and the insularity among cops that grew in response to it: “The so called ‘Blue Wall of Silence’ was a natural emanation to protect this subculture.” This book offers a concise history of the New York City Police Department and a vivid portrait of the city in general, but the author also occasionally discusses some personal challenges—including his struggle to have a relationship with his mother—with admirable candor.
An engaging peek into an astonishingly difficult profession.