Dead Again by Hank Pasinski

VVA member Hank Pasinski was born in Buffalo, New York, and served in the Army, including one year in Vietnam. He later worked for the New York State Police for ten years.

His novel, Dead Again (, 188 pp., $13.50, paper), is an engrossing, well-plotted, episodic story about a DEA undercover agent named Phil Pasinowski.

We’re told that this novel “is the story of a small-town boy who longs for an adventurous life—and gets more than he bargained for. “ That is honest and accurate, as far as it goes.

The philosophy of this book is that the war on drugs is a good thing and worth the millions spent pursuing it. The notion that legalizing drugs should be considered does not arise. It is stated that Phil Pasinowski’s goal in joining the DEA is to “get rid of the drugs in our society.” Good luck with that.

The author’s workmanlike prose is adequate, but he would have benefited from a better editor. There is a lot of repetition in the text. For instance, on page 76 we get the phrases “lack of safety standards” and “no safety standards” in the space of four lines. I got it the first time.

That sort of thing slows down an otherwise interesting book. And that sort of repetition happens over and over again—so often, I tired of marking the text for examples.

Hank Pasinski

On the other hand, Pasinski is a good story teller. The details of the hero’s undercover life are convincing and either well-researched or written directly from the author’s experience. The cover tells us that Pasinski lives in Phoenix, which explains why the book’s details about Arizona are especially realistic and convincing.

This tale of Phil Pasinowski infiltrating biker drug-dealing gangs the Scorpions and the Blanco Diablos, “the two most dangerous and bloodthirsty drug gangs in the American Southwest,” held my interest. I recommend it to any reader who has an affection for stories of undercover law enforcement.

—David Willson