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Arts & Entertainment
Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 6 years ago

Ormond writer's new mafia docudrama to print internationally


Richard Cagan's latest book, about a former New York City detective who worked undercover for the mob, was picked up by Skyhorse Publishing, to release in January.


What can he say? They gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Ormond Beach crime writer Richard Cagan’s latest book, “Mafia Cop: The Two Families of Michael Palermo: Saints Only Live in Heaven,” has been picked up by Skyhorse Publishing Inc., in New York City, for printing throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe.

The author of seven full-length novels, a short story collection, five plays, one screenplay and 200 songs (some of which he still receives royalties from), Cagan moved to Ormond Beach from Yorktown, N.Y., in 1997. He got his information for “Mafia Cop” from interviews with the book’s protagonist, Michael Palermo, a former New York City drugs detective who participated in more than 2,000 arrests in his career, all while maintaining close ties with organized crime.

“But he wasn’t corrupt,” Cagan says. “He was an excellent cop. ... He never compromised his loyalty to the police department.”

Cagan began conducting interviews for and working on “Mafia Cop” in 1979. Skyhorse picked it up last year, with a plan to start printing in 2013.

“The art of writing is rewriting, and I have rewritten this many, many times,” Cagan says. “I finally came across the secret: The secret is to write it like you’re writing a screenplay … in scenes.”

So that’s how most of “Mafia Cop” plays out, Cagan says, with compartmentalized scenes, packed with dialog and dialect instead of narrative exposition.

“It jumps out of the page at you,” he says. “I believe that was the hook that made it work.”

Palermo also worked in security for the Rolling Stones, Cagan added. He helped Ray Charles kick a drug habit. And, most interesting to Cagan, he did most of his undercover mafia work in the city in which city Cagan grew up.

“This is my proof that there is a God,” Cagan said. “I don’t believe in coincidences. ... There’s someone looking over us.”

The book is scheduled to release in hardcover in January. Cagan is currently working on three other manuscripts.

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