06 March 2007

To Drop a Dime: The Mafia Hit Man's Uncensored Story

A good comment came in this morning about Leon Krier's book on the Nazi architect Albert Speer. The person told of finding a copy and gave good info about how to get a copy and added that it was in English and French. This is the kind of input I hoped for when I started Bookride in November last year. Of course comments can be anything you like, except spam or flames, but something helpful about how to find the book and anecdotal evidence as to its rarity and value will always be especially helpful. Also any further useful observations about the work, like obscure points or other collectable editions.

So far most comments have been from teeny Rowling collectors with 33rd editions of the Goblet of Fire. Got to start somewhere and these readers are always welcome, one day they will move on to Kafka, King, Kierkegaard and Kerouac. Today it's the cosa nostra.

Current Selling Prices
$280-$480 /£140-£240 Want level 25-50 Highish

Paul Hoffman & Ira Pecznick: TO DROP A DIME. [The Mafia Hit Man's Uncensored Story]
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1976.

Darn expensive but not especially rare book about a squealer who spilled the beans on New Jersey Campisi family. To 'drop a dime' refers to making a phone call from a phone booth. Probably the most expensive true crime book, although some JFK assassination theory books can just about match it. It was also a paperback by Jove Books, 1977. From the blurb on the back of the paperback:
"Ira Pecznick was a mafia hit man. Captured by the police, this professional killer took the ultimate gamble. He 'dropped a dime' -- turned state's evidence. His testimony sent a mafia family to prison. In return the law gave Ira Pecznick his freedom, a new name and a secret home far from the scene of his criminal life. Now, without apology and in naked detail, Ira Pecznick tells the story of his murderous career, his jungle-like world of fast money, casual sex and shocking violence and the sometimes subtle, sometimes savage operation of the mafia octopus whose tentacle he was. It is not pretty. It is true. And it just may scare the hell out of you."

VALUE? A copy of the paperback described (rather well for ebay) as ' solid and clean. Cover shows no obvious flaws, except spine has slight reader's crease, and is very, very slightly cocked...looks great overall for a 29 year-old paperback" made $180 in early Feb 2007. By the way 29 years is nothing in book life and the commonly used 'looks good for its age' (seldom used by decent dealers) is a bit of a red flag - it usually means 'rather worn.'

Meanwhile the hardback at a start bid of $599 attracted no bids, the jacket looked OK in the pic and was desctibed as slightly shelf worn. Book is not scarce just expensive and it is likely that before long dealers will break ranks on it and the price will gently fall as more copies become available for fewer punters. The book becomes 'net blown' --ABE is littered with once valuable books that the web has exposed as plentiful with the expensive ones hanging on year after year like deposed monarchs. Captain Corelli comes to mind, as always. The guys with copies 'Drop a Dime' at over $1000 are likely to have them until Godfather 8 comes out.

There are some who say that Pecznick shouldn't have done it and the Campisi family were allright but I've seen Goodfellas ( a much better movie than The Departed) and think of them all as petulant sociopaths as portrayed by the great Joe Pesci. Paul Hoffman was the ghost writer. The book 'Deal' by Harvey Aronson tells the same story for a lot less moolah.
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