The remarkable account of a federal prosecutor's kidnapping, the psychological duel and investigation that followed -- a riveting story of human resilience: vivid, funny, terrifying, profane, true.
On January 21, 1998, the night before his thirty-eight birthday, federal prosecutor Stanley Alpert was kidnapped as he was walking home in Manhattan -- and an extraordinary adventure, at once chilling and darkly comic, began.
Alpert was taken by a car-full of gun-toting thugs looking to use his ATM card, but when they learned his bank balance, the plan changed. They took him, blindfolded by his own scarf, to a Brooklyn apartment, with the idea of going to a bank the next day and withdrawing most of it.
But the later it got, the more the plan changed again... and again... as his captors alternately held guns to his head, threatened his family, engaged him in discussions of gangsta philosophy, sought his legal advice and, once they learned it was his birthday, offered him sexual favours from their prostitute girlfriends as a 'birthday present'.
All the while, Alpert, still blindfolded, talked with them, played on their attitudes and fears, tried to figure out where their mood swings would take them next, and memorised every detail he could in the event he ever managed to get out of there alive.
In the meantime, his friends and law enforcement colleagues, worried that they hadn't heard from him, launched a major police and FBI investigation. This, too, would take many twists and turns before it was done -- some of them very strange indeed.
Told not only from Alpert's memory and notes, but from police reports; interviews with NYPD detectives, FBI agents and witnesses; videotaped confessions; and court records, 'Surprise Party' reads like a thriller -- but every word is true.