A Peek Under the Hood is a true crime investigative adventure that travels from the streets to the jungle in the quest to reclaim an inner-city neighborhood's stolen quality of life.
In the mid-1990's, an altruistic DEA agent and his atypical informant, a noble soul who'd endured the injustices of war and forced labor camps in Vietnam, set out to make a difference in Worcester, Massachusetts, a textile manufacturing hub of the Industrial Revolution that had become known for its production of heroin, crack, and crime. Infiltrating a string of drug-dealing auto repairs shops in the gritty Main South neighborhood, "Operation Tune-Up" then traveled into a dangerous underworld that solved murders in New York; chased a wily fugitive through Puerto Rico; went undercover with cocaine smugglers in Panama; and, most impactfully, exposed the biggest heroin traffickers the old mill town had ever seen.
When Main South was given a voice as a crime victim after the virtual elimination of heroin in New England's second largest city - a phenomenon that reduced violent crime, stimulated business growth and spiked pride in property ownership - it was the first time in US court history that a community spokesperson was allowed to give a victim-witness statement, declaring what the neighborhood, not law enforcement, defined as a victory in the war on drugs.
Plot/Idea: Retired DEA agent Pevarnik shares his experiences tackling the 1990s drug problem in Worcester, Massachusetts. This wild ride takes readers from Northeast America to Panama, Puerto Rico, and more, creating a gripping narrative of what goes into bringing down major players in the world of drug trafficking.
Prose: Pevarnik notes the importance of the language ringing true throughout the text; as such, he is careful to avoid excessively cleaning up the dialogue. The descriptions are far gentler than may be anticipated, given the tendency for drugs and violence to co-exist, but the prose is concise, clear, and to-the-point.
Originality: A Peek Under the Hood affords readers inside access to the ups and downs of hunting the most notorious drug traffickers, making this a riveting book.
Character/Execution: Pevarnik emphasizes plot over characterization, and there are some key players whose outcomes lack closure, but ultimately this proves to be a compulsive read.
Date Submitted: October 10, 2023