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The Good Guys
By Bill Bonanno and Joe Pistone

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The Good Guys The Good Guys
By Bill Bonanno and Joe Pistone, with David Fisher
Read by Bill Bonanno and Joe Pistone
Featuring a Sit-Down with Bill Bonanno and Joe Pistone
Time Warner AudioBooks, (2005)
An Abridged Recording on 4 Cassettes or 5 CDs
ISBN: 1-58621-715-1 (Cassettes)
ISBN: 1-58621-716-X (CDs)
Genre: Crime Fiction

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - January 24, 2005

The Good Guys is a gripping story about a missing Professor of Russian Literature and the two diverse groups searching for him - the FBI and the Mafia. On the surface, this is simply another in a long line of stories about the mob. However, The Good Guys is unique in two regards; firstly, the story is told exhaustively from both the perspective of the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys'. Secondly, this book is uniquely convincing in that the book was written by a former FBI agent and a former mob boss.

The story takes place in New York City during the 1980's, following the standard mob versus the FBI crime story format and is fast moving with a crisp dialog. On the FBI's side, there are the preppie Connor O'Brien and his gorgeous partner Laura Russo with whom he is in love. On the Mafia side, the main characters are two colorful thugs, Little Eddie LaRocca and Bobby (Blue Eyes) San Filippo. Both teams are hunting for Peter Gradinsky, a Columbia University professor, who may be connected with the Russian mob. There is nothing overly remarkable about the basic story. However, where the story really shines is in its authenticity and riveting account of the New York Crime Wars of the 1980's.

Bill Bonanno is the former head of the Bonanno Crime Family and Joe Pistone is a former FBI Special Agent who infiltrated the mob under the guise of Bonnie Brasco. Pistone has also written about his undercover work in Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia and in The Way of the Wiseguy he dispels some the myths about the Mafia. For his part, Bonanno also has previous writing credits under his belt. His book Bound by Honor is a biography of Joe Bonanno, his father who is a retired Mafia Don. Working with David Fisher, Pistone and Bonanno bring some unparalleled insights into the interactions between the mob and the FBI and what life is 'really like' within the two organizations. In this, the audio edition of the book, Pistone and Bonanno take turns reading this book. Their reading is not overly energetic, nor articulate, but it does add a sense of realism that a professional reader would have been hard pressed to match.

In addition to the story, this audio edition also includes a 'sit-down' with Bonanno and Pistone. In this section, the authors are interviewed about how they came to write the book, who they based their characters on, the realism contained within the story, and their future literary plans. They also provide a brief overview of what their life was like during their 'mob' days. As well, interspersed throughout the story are details about how the Mafia was organized, how it changed over time, the role of the social clubs, and the role the Mafia played in the day to day life of the mob members as well as nonmembers who came to the social clubs seeking advice or help. These insights will fascinate anyone interested in the history of the mob in America or who wants to discover just how accurate past, fictional portrayals of the mob have been.

A word of warning, this book contains offensive language and scenes of violence. As such, this book may not be suitable for all readers / listeners.

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