CHEESEBOX by Paul S. & Gerard M. Callahan Meskil

CHEESEBOX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The life story of ""Cheesebox"" Callahan -- inventor of, amongst other illegalities, a little black box that could transfer calls (sans possibility of tracing) from one telephone line to another, thereby enabling bookies to escape police surveillance and, not so incidentally, the paying of protection money. Exposed from childhood to the various interlocking worlds of gangsters, politicians and police (his father was a Tammany cop in the Jimmy Walker ""Gashouse Gang"" tradition) -and disgusted by the hypocrisy of big business -- Cheesebox began to peddle his considerable electronic skills to whoever could use them. This included rigging Democratic election booths, tapping and clearing phone lines for crooks from Capone on down, and -- his true love -- tampering with the transmission of race results for post-finish bets, a la ""The Sting."" Nor was Cheesebox above hustling money from the overeager sanctimonious bettors with their houses in the suburbs and girlfriends in the city. What he doesn't know about wiretapping isn't worth the knowing. And his condemnation of Ma Bell (if crossboxes -- where individual lines are set up -- were guarded with one tenth the zealousness paid to the public coin phones, illegal wiretapping would be virtually eliminated) should at least help to endear this quasi-legit character to those who might otherwise summarily dismiss him.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1974
Publisher: Prentice-Hall