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Breslin Finds Star 'Rat' in a New York Mafia Tale

Jimmy Breslin found his "good rat" on a witness stand a few years ago.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, who has spent a career covering New York's mafia, found the star of his new book, The Good Rat, in Burt Kaplan, a witness in a trial against two New York detectives indicted for acting as mafia hit men.

Kaplan spent part of his life as a legitimate guy, raising a daughter and running a garment business. But on the side, he also trafficked drugs and set up hits for the mob. While he was serving a jail sentence in 2004, Kaplan turned state's evidence against detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

Breslin discovered Kaplan while covering the cops' trial, where he hoped to find enough meat for a new book. But rather than focusing his pen on the crooked cops, Breslin sees a true story in Kaplan's life. In The Good Rat, Breslin uses Kaplan's story to create a portrait of the New York mob as it functioned every day. Breslin goes inside mob watering holes, describes famous body dumping grounds and captures legendary mafia moments.

Jacki Lyden spoke to Breslin about covering his city's notorious gangsters.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


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