He was the first to put the mafia on the page exactly as they were–before The Sopranos, before The Godfather, there was Jimmy Breslin of the New York Herald Tribune. Breslin can sniff out a story like he can sniff out a rat, and in The Good Rat, he tells a lifetime of anecdotes in his inimitable New York voice, giving us a view through the keyhole of the people and places that define the Mafia. Characters like the Honorable Jack Weinstein, the judicial heavyweight who snapped Vincent Gigante's insanity defense in two, Sammy the Bull, the original snitch, Gaspipe Casso, named for his weapon of choice; and hangouts like Pep McGuire's, the legendary watering hole where reporters and gangsters (all hailing from the same working class neighborhoods) rubbed elbows and traded stories, the dog–fight circles and body dumps at Ozone Park, the back room at Midnight Rose's candy store where Murder, Inc. hired and fired.
But best of all, Breslin captures the moments in which the Mafia was made and broken– Breslin was there the night John Gotti celebrated his acquittal at his Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry, having bribed his way to innocence, only to incite the wrath of the FBI, who would later crush Gotti and others with the full force of the RICO laws.
In The Good Rat, Breslin brings together the most recent, most memorable, and the long forgotten stories to create a sharp–eyed portrait of the mob as it lived and breathed, as it sounded and survived.