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Extended Audio Sample Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love, by Barbara Laker, Wendy Ruderman Click for printable size audiobook cover
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In the vein of Erin Brockovich, The Departed, and T. J. English’s Savage City comes Busted, 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 two hundred 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, Busted is modern true crime at its finest.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “I admire Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, who are not only Pulitzer Prize winning journalists but fearless and fascinating women. Busted reads like a turbocharged thriller, all the more compelling because it’s true. Pick up a copy, and you won’t be able to put it down.”

    Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author

  • Busted is a thoroughly engaging…trip into Philadelphia’s underworld, where cops prey on those they are pledged to protect…Rich with character and incident, it’s a complete original and a love letter to newspapers in their hour of dire need.”

    Mark Bowden, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down

  • “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.”

    Pete Dexter, journalist and author of National Book Award winner 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.”

    Edna Buchanan, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and bestselling author

  • “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.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “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.”

    USA Today

  • 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.”

    Newsweek

  • “Fans of The Front Page and All the President’s Men will be transfixed by this astounding tale of police corruption.”

    New York Post

  • “The chick, noir version of All the President’s Men with a little Rocky…and a little almost anything with Rosalind Russell or Barbara Stanwyck.”

    Washington Post

  • Busted is a welcome addition to the literature of journalism procedurals.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “[A] gritty, honest, often surprisingly funny book.”

    Philadelphia Weekly

  • “A fast-paced, well-written true crime book.”

    Washington Times

  • Busted is a Philadelphia classic…It’s an easy, breezy read, but that’s not to say it’s insubstantial.”

    Philadelphia magazine

  • “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”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “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.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Readers of true crime and students of sociology will especially enjoy this highly engaging read about the modern realities that plague many American cities.”

    Library Journal

  • Busted reads like a gritty crime novel, but it is a paean to journalistic professionalism.”

    Michael Smerconish, columnist, MSNBC contributor, and host of The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM

  • 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 they’re two of the best reporters in the country.”

    George Anastasia, author of The Last Gangster

  • “Offers an insightful view of high-risk, high-reward investigative journalism…Ruderman and Laker provide a welcome addition to the shelves of books about the mechanics and logistics of journalistic exposés.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014
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About the Author

Wendy Ruderman has a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007, she worked at several media outlets, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY-TV and WHYY-FM, the Trenton Times, the Associated Press, and the Bergen Record.