Archetypal street-smart cop Leuci (Blaze, 1999, etc.) initiates us into the workings of the brotherhood of New York’s finest a generation ago.
And he should know: his experiences as a crooked detective who cooperated in a corruption investigation were the basis for Robert Daley’s Prince of the City (1978). Leuci, a neighborhood guy who spent decades out there, vividly depicts his adventures from the day he first twirled a nightstick. He quickly learned the rules: if it doesn’t fold, don’t take it; never rat out a partner; there is no such thing as a warning shot; show the skels and the yoms who’s in charge. (The text sometimes sounds like cop-bar repartee, but there are explanations for readers who never met a skel or a yom). The author guarded the Beatles. He landed in the heart of a riot. He went undercover as a high-school student scoring drugs and soon was known on the street as “Babyface.” In the vaunted Special Investigations Unit, the scrupulous cop with all the great collars became the bought cop. He made cases and he made money. Dealing with informants, wiseguys, and top-of-the-line narcs, he yearned to surpass the haul in the recent French Connection, much of which went missing. Leuci turned, finally, against the bad cops, fixers, crooked bondsmen, judges, shysters, and the whole corrupt system. He wore a wire and came under the protection of bodyguards as intrigue and danger mounted. Old friends were jammed as he became an important witness. Before being retired, Babyface grew up. It’s a dramatic police story, worthy of Wambaugh presenting with vitality players from Mario Cuomo, Rudy Giuliani, Vinny Albano, and Leuci’s cousin Johnny Tarzan to bimbos, pimps, pushers, made guys, and, especially, lieutenants, sergeants, and all the brothers on the job (generally described as attractive).
A shrewd confessional by a knowing veteran—and a helluva cop book.