RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

The Good Guys, by Bill Bonanno and Joe Pistone


What does a Columbia University professor of Russian literature have to do with Bobby Blue Eyes and the other regulars of the Freemont Avenue Social Club? FBI special agents Connor O'Brien and Laura Russo want to know, too, joining the mob's search for the missing professor after hearing his name mentioned during a wiretap of the crew's hangout. The riddle is solved in The Good Guys, told by Bill Bonanno, former head of a crime family and former FBI agent Joe Pistone, AKA Donnie Brasco. Hijacked trucks, sexy coeds, clandestine love nests, Italian rituals, violent acts, and the Russian mafia all populate this insider's guide to the mob, circa 1985.

While The Good Guys is a work of crime fiction, Bill Bonanno and Joe Pistone interject factual data and commentary as they narrate their tale of murder, violence, love and justice. Bill Bonanno describes the traditions of Italian family rituals as well as the protocol of Mafia business relationships. Joe Pistone offers both the undercover cop and FBI agent perspectives on the business of fighting crime. A third author, David Fisher, gave life to the book after introducing the idea of the collaboration to Bonanno and Pistone. In narrating their own book, Bonnano and Pistone enhance the feeling of authenticity, while depriving the listener of the comfort of listening to a flawless reader.

The Good Guys might be considered a road book, because the automobile plays such a big part in both the cops' and the criminals' lives. I was especially intrigued by one scene in the book, where "the boys" take an unfortunate double crosser upstate to Swan Lake to whack him. Bonnano describes the total blackness of the rural night, and I knew exactly what he meant, having grown up a few miles away from the White Lake made famous in the 1920's by Murder Incorporated as a dumping place for bodies.

In telling what life is really like as mob members and law enforcement agents, Bonnano and Pistone take away the mystique of mob glamour and give listeners something more accurate. Bonnano describes his daily activities as a job requiring constant hustling and scheming, with no regular hours and no benefit packages. Pistone describes his job as tedious, monotonous, political, and laden with paperwork. In a commentary at the end of the audio book, though, Bill Bonnano says that the qualities that make a good FBI agent are the same ones the mob looks for in a loyal member -- "dedication, perseverance, and a will to do what's right, based on your culture and your traditions." This 6-hour abridged audio book is informative and entertaining. Will it be the last we hear of Bobby Blue Eyes and the FBI? Forgetaboutit!

Ruth Mormon

Fuel Cost Calculator