The consummately unglamourous life and times of a Mafia moll turned informant, by the author of Missing Beauty (1988). As a teenager on New York's Lower East Side, Arlyne Weiss dressed provocatively, flirted brazenly, and had sex with anyone who struck her as enticingly dangerous. Although her family was Jewish and she had affairs with cronies of her father (like Nate, whom she found one night with a bullet in his head), she preferred Italians, usually small-time gangsters, who lived from one shady deal to the next. Weiss married furrier Norman Brickman and became pregnant, but they parted before the baby was born. After a stint as a call girl that led to a violent gang rape, she met and became obsessed with a minor-league hood associated with the Genovese family. Weiss got involved in his numbers operation, and when they were busted, she accepted the cops' invitation to inform. Early on, she spilled just random wise-guy gossip, but soon lots of law-enforcement agencies (the FBI, the DEA) got in on the act. Weiss began wearing a wire, going after loan sharks and drug-dealers, cleverly inducing them to implicate themselves on tape, feeling no qualms about betraying her former friends. She never was able to get anything on John Gotti, but she testified at the racketeering trial of godfather Carmine Persico, and although she was humiliated on the stand, he and his codefendants were convicted. There's a voyeuristic charge to peering into this sordid world as Weiss careens from teenage sex sprees to haphazard crime schemes to her ultimate isolation, her only child, a heroine addict, having died of AIDS. Carpenter adeptly lays out a tremendous amount of information, but in the end it's the bleakness of the picture that overwhelms: the sexism, small-mindedness, and addiction to excitement that characterize life in the mob.