Latin Blues: A Tale of Police Omerta
Author: Joe Sanchez, Mo Dhania
Publisher: Old Kings Road Press (2006)
Binding: Perfect Paperback, 290 pages
We don't talk about it. That's what the veteran policeman from Brooklyn’s 92nd Precinct, a good and honest cop, told his rookie partner one day. We don t get mixed up in it not the graft, not the shakedowns, not the abuse, not the endless turf battles among higher-ups. We deal with these things however we can. But we don't talk about it. One day, a good cop dies and, talk about it or not, his comrades know they have to do something about it. A tale of what went on behind the New York s Blue Wall in the roaring 70 s... Let the f**ks kill each other. That was the credo of Captain Maximilian Leopold, of Brooklyn’s 92nd precinct. But even Joe Picon, the rookie cop, knew the f**ks didn’t always kill other f**cks. When the f**ks began to converge the Jimenez Gang, the Brass Knuckle Rapist, Skinhead Ramos, turf-hungry bureaucrats, bean-counting number crunchers, and the lust-crazed Captain himself the victim who died wasn't a f**k at all. He was a good cop from another precinct, and he had been blindsided by another credo even good cops follow: We don't talk about it.
Latin Blues is a gritty hardnosed curb level view of inner city police work on the mean streets of New York in the 1970's when gangs and crime flourished to the point of almost being out of control. Told by ex-cops who lived this hell every day, the reader gets a chilling glimpse into the lives of men in blue that had to develop survival routines to just get through one day at a time, doing their jobs within a complex political social hierarchy of department, and municipal corruption. When the reader realizes that this scenario was being repeated in dozens of American cities throughout the country, he is sobered and feels naive. He is also thankful for such front line troops that fight daily to contain the violence that could escalate, and spread. Many jungle veterans of the Vietnam War can identify with what these police officers had to do to survive, so similar are the necessities to operate on the fringe of "the rules" in order to stay alive. In the end, the greater virtues of loyalty and honor prevail in the ranks of soldier cops, but a terrible price is extracted along the way. You think you know police work? You probably don't until you read Latin Blues.
Reviewed by: Flournoy, Bob(2012)