Synopses & Reviews
reads like a thriller, the breathtaking story it tells—of two journalists' quest to unmask corrupt police officers and a warped justice system, the reporting of which culminated in a Pulitzer Prize—is absolutely true. One afternoon in late 2008, a man walks into the offices of the local tabloid the Philadelphia Daily News
and asks to speak with reporter Wendy Ruderman. An imminent casualty of the foundering print industry, the paper is on the brink of bankruptcy, and its anxious staff members are plagued with dwindling resources. But what Benny Martinez tells Wendy and her colleague Barbara Laker is too shocking to ignore; his career as a confidential informant for a member of the Philadelphia Police Department's narcotics squad has drawn him into a horrifying web of corruption, and now he is afraid for his life.
The decision they make that day to believe Benny's saga will lead the two journalists to uncover a truth darker than they could have imagined. Busted is Ruderman and Laker's riveting account of their explosive investigation into the acts committed by rogue members of the narcotics squad. By dint of perseverance, ingenuity, and good old shoe-leather reporting, the women unravel a tapestry of lies almost six years in the making. Starting with a scheme to fabricate search warrants, the scandal soon encompasses the systematic, citywide looting of immigrant-owned businesses and allegations of brutal sexual assault.
The remarkable lengths Ruderman and Laker go to for the story—chasing down witnesses on the city's grimmest streets, sifting through archive boxes and hours of surveillance tape for crucial clues, and coaxing reluctant victims to come forward—put their determination to balance motherhood with the career they love to the ultimate test. But when they produce a devastating series of articles that blows the lid off the scandal—prompting civil lawsuits against the city and the reexamination of hundreds of convictions (although none of the officers have been charged or convicted of any crime)—they not only win the fight for justice; they also win a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, an unthinkable achievement for two city reporters at a beleaguered regional paper.
“Busted is a thoroughly engaging…trip into Philadelphias underworld, where cops prey on those they are pledged to protect…. Rich with character and incident, its a complete original, and a love letter to newspapers in their hour of dire need.” < b=""> Mark Bowden, author of < i=""> Black Hawk Down <> <>
“Busted is a taut, gritty story of drug dealers and corrupt cops written with passion, fury and what Philadelphians refer to as attitude (pronounced ‘atty-tood). Ruderman and Laker have a lot of that, which is why theyre two of the best reporters in the country.” < b=""> George Anastasia, author of < i=""> Blood and Honor <> and < i=""> The Last Gangster <> <>
“I admire Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, who are not only Pulitzer-Prize winning journalists, but fearless and fascinating women. Busted reads like a turbo-charged thriller, all the more compelling because its true. Pick up a copy, and you wont be able to put it down.” < b=""> Lisa Scottoline <>
“A story that not only pounds at the door to come inside, but stands as a much-needed reminder that newspapers are and always have been and, as far as I know, always will be the bedrock of the art of journalism.” < b=""> Pete Dexter, journalist and author of National Book Award-winner < i=""> Paris Trout <> <>
“Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love is the scorching, devastating, and action-packed story of two journalists journey into the dark heart of a major city.…Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker are true heroes…. I love this book.” < b=""> Edna Buchanan, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author <>
“Prevailing against threats, intimidation, and the impending bankruptcy of their newspaper, Ruderman and Laker delivered a powerful series on police corruption, ultimately earning the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. This is a gritty, true-life thriller about the intersection of policing, drug dealing, and news reporting” < strong=""> < em=""> Booklist < m=""> (starred review) < trong="">
“Busted reads like a gritty crime novel, but it is a paean to journalistic professionalism.” < strong=""> Michael Smerconish, columnist, MSNBC contributor, and host of The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM < trong="">
“This true crime book offers an impressive, crisply told account of the reporting of a police corruption scandal that yielded a Pulitzer Prize…. The book is a tough, lively lesson in how doing the right thing, the right way, may not be enough.” < strong=""> < em=""> Publishers Weekly < trong=""> < m="">
“Ruderman and Laker provide a welcome addition to the shelves of books about the mechanics and logistics of journalistic exposés . . . . [t]he narrative offers an insightful view of high-risk, high-reward investigative journalism.” < strong=""> < em=""> Kirkus Reviews < m=""> < trong="">
“A riveting tale of two brave reporters who love what they do and are totally committed….engaging, down to earth and at times, very funny.” < em=""> USA Today < m="">
“Busted is a very good book about very bad people, a great read about great injustice.…Busted is proof that journalism still lives, still matters.” < em=""> Newsweek < m="">
“Busted is a welcome addition to the literature of journalism procedurals.” < strong=""> < em=""> Philadelphia Inquirer < m=""> < trong="">
“Fans of The Front Page and All the Presidents Men will be transfixed by this astounding tale of police corruption.” < em=""> New York Post < m="">
“The new book Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love is the chick, noir version of All the Presidents Men.” < em=""> Washington Post < m="">
“A fast-paced, well-written true crime book.” < em=""> Washington Times < m="">
“Equal parts serious journalism and sisterly sass, Busted is a personable and fast-reading ride…a shoe-leather journalistic procedural set against the ticking clock of the failing newspaper industry.” < em=""> New York Times Book Review < m="">
“The chick, noir version of All the Presidents Men with a little Rocky… and a little almost anything with Rosalind Russell or Barbara Stanwyck.” < em=""> Washington Post < m="">
In the vein of Erin Brockovich, The Departed
, and T. J. English's Savage City
, the shocking true story of the biggest police corruption scandal in Philadelphia history, a tale of drugs, power, and abuse involving a rogue narcotics squad, a confidential informant, and two veteran journalists whose reporting drove a full-scale FBI probe, rocked the City of Brotherly Love, and earned a Pulitzer Prize .
In 2003, Benny Martinez became a Confidential Informant for a member of the Philadelphia Police Department's narcotics squad, helping arrest nearly 200 drug and gun dealers over seven years. But that success masked a dark and dangerous reality: the cops were as corrupt as the criminals they targeted.
In addition to fabricating busts, the squad systematically looted mom-and-pop stores, terrorizing hardworking immigrant owners. One squad member also sexually assaulted three women during raids. Frightened for his life, Martinez turned to Philadelphia Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker.
Busted chronicles how these two journalists—both middle-class working mothers—formed an unlikely bond with a convicted street dealer to uncover the secrets of ruthless kingpins and dirty cops. Professionals in an industry shrinking from severe financial cutbacks, Ruderman and Laker had few resources—besides their own grit and tenacity—to break a dangerous, complex story that would expose the rotten underbelly of a modern American city and earn them a Pulitzer Prize. A page-turning thriller based on superb reportage, illustrated with eight pages of photos, Busted is modern true crime at its finest.
About the Author
A reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News
, Wendy Ruderman has worked at several media outlets, including the New York Times
, Philadelphia Inquirer
, WHYY-TV and WHYY-FM, the Trenton Times
, the Associated Press, and the Bergen Record
Barbara Laker has worked for several newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Times Herald, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She began working at the Philadelphia Daily News in 1993 and has since been a general assignment reporter, an assistant city editor, and an investigative reporter.