CRUSADE by Tom Tripodi


Undercover Against the Mafia and KGB
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 Burly, door-smashing story of Tripodi's 27 years undercover as a crime-fighter and covert operator, told with the help of thriller-writer DeSario (Sanctuary, 1989, etc.). Tripodi majored in philosophy at Villanova but after receiving his B.A. switched to law, a pursuit he found narrow, blinkered, and not truth-seeking when set beside philosophy. Even so, he has spent his life fighting criminals and spies by way of law-enforcement agencies--the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), the CIA, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, and the DEA. Here and there, he touches on noteworthy or even famous cases in which he may not have been a leading crime fighter but was in charge of the investigation or played a leading part. He started out as a foot soldier breaking down doors in drug busts. When this footwork paled, he put his knowledge of Italian to use by compiling the FBN's Mafia List, a biographical encyclopedia of all known Mafia members. Meanwhile, the FBN's rival, the FBI, wouldn't admit the existence of the Mafia and, Tripodi says, entered the fray against organized crime only when Hoover got some fancy press for himself. Tripodi gave up on the drug wars (and shows here how Mafia songster Joe Valachi's confessions were worthless canary feed) and switched to covert operations with the CIA. There, among other cases, he tried to break the story of KGB defector Major Yuri Nosenko, who claimed to have been Lee Harvey Oswald's case officer. When spy work paled, Tripodi went on to drug-busting and nailing cops and feds on the take. He details his work on the French Connection and the Pizza Connection cases, as well as in Palermo, the Mafia's original Sicilian slime pit. Lovers of brainy but big-shouldered undercover ops won't be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-881019-8
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993