Men’s Journal

Recommended Reading

“The new and noteworthy” by Anthony Brandt


“WE DO A GOOD JOB. Lots of people don’t think so — bad guys certainly don’t think so. But we do the job as best we can.” So says Detective First Grade Thomas McKenna at the end of Cop Talk (Pocket Books $22), and by the time you get to it, you believe. E.W. Count has talked to dozens of New York City police detectives about their work, gotten great stories from them, told in their own words. Reading this is like watching NYPD Blue, only better: more detail about police procedure, more of the persistence and thoroughness of police work at its best, and more interesting cases, including famous ones like the Gotti case and the Preppy Murderer.

Great stories, great theater: When the police pick up Gotti and hit man Sammy “the Bull” Gravano and empty their pockets, Gravano has $2,100 in large bills and eight singles on him. “Sammy,” says Gotti. “what are you doing with singles? You’re embarrassing me. Remind me when we get outta here, I gotta give you a raise.” Or the Hispanics who couldn’t understand why anybody thought it was wrong to steal body parts out of graves for Santeria rituals. Count gives us a high-speed chase through Queens straight off the police-radio tapes; we get verbatim transcripts of confessions; we get a tape of an informer hearing from a friend how he killed a woman and stuffed her body in a refrigerator in a building about to be abandoned. She wasn’t found for two years.

This is a celebration of the police. We don’t get corruption, blunders or failed cases. But once you understand that, you don’t mind. E.W. Count is a woman who adores cops. Read this, and you want to become one yourself. Cops know the streets better than anybody but the perps; you walk in their shoes, and it holds your attention like a knife to the throat. Let me say it again: These are great stories. You can’t make this up.