DEAD ON DELIVERY by Robert M. Stutman

DEAD ON DELIVERY

Inside the Drug Wars, Straight from the Street
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Sober telling of a top narc's life story. Stutman, who retired from the DEA in 1990 after 25 years, starts near the end of his career, in February 1989, with the Staten Island murder of DEA agent Everett Hatcher by drug-dealing mobster Gus Farace. It's a powerful beginning, one that allows Stutman--writing with New York Newsday city editor Esposito--to honor his fallen comrade and to introduce his major theme: the betrayal of the war on drugs on the federal level, thanks to inadequate funding--``As had three presidents before and one after him, Reagan ensured the nation's anti-drug policy was dead on arrival.'' An emotionally charged description of Hatcher's funeral gives way to a lengthy retracing of Stutman's career from his rookie days as a campus narc through his rise in the ranks, duty overseas, and long stint as head of the DEA's Boston office. Much of this recap deals with relatively dull bureaucratic wranglings (punched up by the occasional revelation--e.g., that in 1972 the DEA identified Manuel Noriega as a suspected drug trafficker but was told to lay off by the State Department; that Stutman's own son smoked pot), and it's padded by a long ``informant's tale'' drawn from talks with a major cog in the Chinese Connection. The narrative picks up as Stutman takes over the N.Y.C. office in 1985 and confronts crack, and races ahead when he returns to the hunt for Farace in a terrific climax that includes details of his surreptitious dawn visit to John Gotti's house to ask for help in nailing the killer. Farace was slain by the mob soon after, and Stutman's parting words show just how hard-boiled this cop is: ``I was glad he was dead. He didn't deserve a trial.'' Tough as nails but not so sharp, and most notable for Stutman's caustic criticisms of a weak federal antidrug policy. (Sixteen-page photo insert--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 10th, 1992
ISBN: 0-446-51558-2
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992