The Intriguing Observations series was created to gather some of the greatest supporters and bloggers to provide their own insight on all things creative both in their ventures and their techniques. This week on the guest series is author John Lansing (@jelansing).
In the year I spent doing research for my non-fiction book, “Good Cop Bad Money,” one theme kept springing up again and again: Cops didn’t like the Feds, who didn’t trust the DEA, who wouldn’t share Intel with ATF who didn’t like the cops.
My protagonist in “The Devil’s Necktie,” Jack Bertolino, understood from his many years doing undercover narcotics work, that you had to “give to get” if you wanted to infiltrate money laundering cells, and drug cells, and take down Mafia bosses, cartel kingpins, and killers. You needed to be willing to share Intel with other agencies, and equally as important, you needed to find someone on the inside. Someone that you trusted. And that necessitated working side by side with confidential informants. That relationship always fascinated me.
I learned there were two major reasons why someone would sign on to being a confidential informant, or CI.
One: a criminal is caught perpetrating a crime. Let’s say, selling a thousand pounds of cocaine. The drug dealer’s facing twenty years in the slammer and becomes a CI to work off his prison time. It’s work for the NYPD, or go to jail. The equation seems like a no brainer, but there’s a very short shelf life for informants. Once a drug cell or cartel realizes there’s a “sickness” – that someone’s been talking to the cops – they’ll stop at nothing to root out the snitch. And the CI turns up dead, in some horrific way. Left behind to teach a lesson.
The second reason a confidential informant might be willing to put their life in jeopardy for the cops was for money, plain and simple. To get rich. Money was at play in the case of Mia, in “The Devil’s Necktie.” Mia was a beautiful young woman who fell in love with the son of a Colombian cartel kingpin worth billions of dollars. This man didn’t approve of the relationship and when he heard that Mia was pregnant, and when she refused his request for an abortion, the brutal man had her abducted and did it for her.
Mia’s overriding reason for becoming a confidential informant was revenge.
The Feds had a monetary equation in place for paying for services rendered by a CI. The more drugs a contract player delivered, the more money they made. In Mia’s case the number ran into the six figures.
For twenty-five years Jack had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants. He never let them into his personal life. He was the boss. He would give them respect if it was warranted and proven over time, but it was never personal. Just business. It was a steadfast rule and a line in the sand he never crossed. Not that he hadn’t been tempted. Mia was drop dead gorgeous. She had the kind of beauty that could make a grown man contemplate leaving is wife, his job, and his kids.
But Jack was retired now, recovering from a bitter divorce, carrying more than his share of guilt. As a young undercover cop, he’d chosen the pump of work over family. Time not spent with his son and his wife was a debt he could never pay back. It destroyed his marriage. He moved to Marina del Rey, California for a fresh start.
All was going well. Jack felt at peace for the first time in many years. And then his telephone rang.
It was Mia, reaching out for help. Jack had made a promise that if things ever got too hot for her out on the street, he would do what he could to help her out of the jam. Mia was turning in her chit.
Seeing Mia knocked Jack’s world off it’s axis. Twenty-five years of discipline and lines in the sand disappeared as if they were an afterthought. After a night of perfect, desperate, hungry sex, Mia was found brutally murdered and Jack was the only suspect.
One night of passion for retired Inspector Jack Bertolino threw him on a deadly collision course with his past. Mia’s life and more importantly her death pulled him back into the life he had tried to escape. A lifetime of taking down drug dealers, and money launderers came back to haunt him, and Jack had to call in every favor owed, from every agency he’d ever done business with, to prove his innocence and bring the killers to justice.
About the Author :
John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows.
During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.”
John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.
The Devil’s Necktie is his first novel. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.