A vain man of good looks but no family ties to the Mob, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano worked his way up to acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, becoming its leader when official boss Joseph Massino went to prison in 2003. When the Mafia was crawling with secret operatives and informants caving to government pressure to flip, Basciano steadfastly obeyed the code of La Cosa Nostra. "I got faith in one guy," he said during a secretly taped meeting. That man was Massino, head of the Bonanno borgata. But for ...
A vain man of good looks but no family ties to the Mob, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano worked his way up to acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, becoming its leader when official boss Joseph Massino went to prison in 2003. When the Mafia was crawling with secret operatives and informants caving to government pressure to flip, Basciano steadfastly obeyed the code of La Cosa Nostra. "I got faith in one guy," he said during a secretly taped meeting. That man was Massino, head of the Bonanno borgata. But for all his loyalty, Basciano was still a hot-headed, cold-blooded killer, which ultimately led to his arrest and downfall.Then in a remarkable betrayal that rocked the Five Families to their foundations, Massino secretly cooperated with the FBI—the first head boss ever to roll over. As a result, Basciano faced the death penalty, but a federal jury, disturbed by the prosecution's use of deadly criminal informants, reached a surprising verdict. Here from veteran crime author Anthony M. DeStefano comes the riveting story of the last true believer in the Mob's cult of brotherhood and his betrayal at the hands of the only man he ever trusted.
A Newsday reporter working the criminal justice beat depicts the sensational trajectory of the flamboyant and lethal New York crime boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano from a neighborhood kid “who hung out with mobsters” to the pinnacle of the Mafia world. Hollywood handsome with the cold edge of a killer, Basciano loved the mob life and assumed the lead role of the Bonanno crime family when its former boss, Joseph Massino, wound up in federal detention. But then, in 2004, Massino turned informer—the first boss of the Cosa Nostra’s Five Families to do so—and a wired meet-up between the two landed Basciano in court. Throughout the book, DeStefano (Mob Killer) describes his subject as smart, naturally charismatic, and lucky—at least for a while. After managing to avoid conviction due to legal irregularities in his case, Basciano was finally found guilty of murder in 2011 and sentenced to life in prison. This is a dark, informed, and effective bio, and DeStefano is a master at cutting through the secrecy of the Mafia hierarchy. B&w photos. Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (July)
From the Publisher
"This is a dark, informed, and effective bio, and DeStefano is a master at cutting through the secrecy of the Mafia hierarchy."—Publishers Weekly"Dramatic ... thrilling ... tantalizing ... DeStefano's prose cohesively describes the trials, legal strategies, and lawyers, revealing previously unseen aspects of Basciano's character as he fought to avoid the death penalty."—Kirkus ReviewsCritical acclaim for Anthony M. Destefano's King of the Godfathers:"DeStefano's book tracks the downfall not only of Massino himself but all of the old organized crime families. ... DeStefano gives us unique insights."—New York Law Journal "The last word and best work on the life and times of Joe Massino ... DeStefano brings the story to life … and adds special insight into Massino."—Jerry Capeci, creator of GangLandNews.com"Thrilling American crime writing." —Jimmy Breslin, author of The Good Rat and winner of the Pulitzer Prize
From organized crime specialist DeStefano (Mob Killer, 2011, etc.), a convoluted exploration of the career of Mafioso Vincent Basciano, who is currently serving a life sentence in a Supermax facility. The author opens not with Basciano, but with a minor player in New York's Bonanno family who was executed for having a big mouth and a brash presence. His death is his connection to the story; it was ordered by none other than Basciano, who later admitted as much to his own boss in prison. The man was wearing a wire, so DeStefano is able to recount their conversation word-for-word, which makes for a dramatic, promising launch to his narrative. However, the author then muddies the waters by adding layer upon layer of mob history, obscuring Basciano's trajectory. DeStefano gives so much background information about the Mafia in New York that the book becomes a jumble of names and crimes. Thrilling tales are glossed over, offering tantalizing glimpses of dramas that intrigue but take readers' minds off the purported subject. It's difficult to see how all these tidbits fit into Basciano's story, if they belong there at all. Eventually, after nearly 200 pages, the narrative lands squarely back on Basciano, and the pace picks up with his arrest and multiple trials. DeStefano's prose is clearer in this section, cohesively describing the trials, legal strategies and lawyers, revealing previously unseen aspects of Basciano's character as he fought to avoid the death penalty. (Convicted of two separate murders in 2007 and 2011, he got off with life imprisonment in both cases.) Unfortunately, these insights come too late in the text and are not fully developed, so Basciano's legacy in the world of organized crime remains unclear. Enthusiasts likely already know the details of Basciano's trials, and casual readers will be better served by other, clearer accounts.
Anthony M. DeStefano is a staff reporter for Newsday, covering legal affairs and criminal justice in New York City. Formerly a staff reporter at the Wall Street Journal and Fairchild News Service, he has appeared on Biography Channel programs about Joseph Massino and Mafia killer Thomas Pitera as an expert on organized crime.