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Book Review:

Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob

By Bob Delaney with Dave Scheiber

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“There are three groups of people you don’t mess with in this world – the FBI, the Mafia, and NBA refs.” Mike Schuler, NBA head coach, p. 223

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My husband asked Santa for Covert this past Christmas, and I immediately knew I wanted to steal it from him. It is the story of Bob Delaney, aka Bobby Covert, a New Jersey state trooper who is asked to go undercover just shortly after he joins the state troopers. In this new assignment, Delaney teams with other state troopers and the FBI (cooperation that was almost unheard of at the time) in Project Alpha, an effort better understand the inner workings of the mob and to make a serious dent in NJ’s organized crime. Over three years, Delaney starts and becomes president of a Jersey-based trucking company while wearing a wire and gathering evidence against the mobsters that plague the Jersey Shore.

Covert stands out not because it is a true crime novel, but because you can see, as you’re reading, the battles Delaney/Covert undergoes as he swings between his identity as a trooper and a mobster. He suffers from guilt at prosecuting mobsters who had become friends. He is unable to express his emotions after so long of suppressing them.

It was difficult for Delaney to readjust to ordinary life after his undercover left, but a few choice confidants and his “hoops therapy” (p. 185) allow him to get back to normal life. For several years, Delaney splits his time with the state troopers and reffing all levels of basketball, eventually becoming a full-time NBA ref.

Recommendation: While I was drawn to the book when my husband got it, I was a little doubtful I would enjoy it. It ended up being a great book. Delaney’s undercover assignment and his life after the assignment wasn’t romanticized like so many stories today. Delaney’s story was fascinating and well-told. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime or memoirs.

Grade: B+

Genre: True Crime, Biography, Sports

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