It is a special treat when I get to sit and read an entire book these days. You know, a REAL book, with paper pages and a spine. Especially one that is not about politics. Recently I sat down with Bob Hamer’s book, The Last Undercover, and had trouble putting it down. Hamer tells the story of his life as an undercover FBI agent for 26 years, but focuses on the last big undercover assignment he did — infiltrating NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association).
Speaking with Hamer by telephone I learned his reason for writing the book was to inform the public about the danger posed by child predators and specifically to make them aware that pedophiles don’t all look like the boogeyman. He said that some of those he encountered looked like they came “straight from central casting,” but others were your dentist, your psychiatrist, your child’s teacher or coach. He said most appear to be normal, and are highly functioning in society.
To tell the story of how he was able to infiltrate NAMBLA posing as a member of the organization, he interspersed experiences from his 26 year undercover career. He said those experiences prepared him for what he described as the hardest role he ever played, posing as a pedophile. Some of the stories Hamer shares in the book are of his assignments working cases involving drug dealers, counterfeiters, gangs, mafia, horse race gambling and female circumcision. They read like a season of a television detective show, only more interesting.
Hamer tells some of the back story about how undercover operations work — including how, when wearing a wire, he always had to think about how recorded conversations would sound to a jury and choose his words carefully. He writes about things that went wrong in some of the investigations and recounts some really close calls. Sometimes he actually grew to like the people he eventually was responsible for putting in jail, which made it easier for him to pass as one of them. It was interesting to learn some of the ways he was able to gain the trust of criminals that were so much different than him.
He writes about how he balanced a family with his undercover work. He had a “bad guy phone” in his house where he received calls from those he was investigating. His daughter feared that one day a stranger would come home posing as her dad so she would check behind his head when he came home to make sure he didn’t have a string back there holding on a mask. I asked Hamer how his wife was able to live that life, knowing that he was often in danger, and associating with such dangerous characters. He said she was a strong woman of faith, but joked that it didn’t hurt that he was worth more dead than alive.
Hamer describes the NAMBLA operation as the hardest of his career because of the emotional toll it took on him. He was sickened by much of what he heard and saw, but had to maintain his act. One scene from the book that I will probably never get out of my head is of a group of NAMBLA convention attendees going to the Toys R Us in New York City and pointing out little boys they would like to abuse. None of them approached any of the children, but the thought that right there, under the noses of the parents, a group of men was using their children to feed their sick fantasies is something I will probably think of anytime I am in a public place with my children.
While discussing possible locations for an upcoming convention the deciding factor in choosing one city was that it was home to Legoland. That made me shudder. The book is not hard to read though. Hamer omitted the really graphic details, although one description of his encounter with the “world’s most premiere body modification expert” in a female circumcision case left me with a mental image I don’t think I’ll ever be able to scrub clean.
The book is great and I would not be surprised to see it on the big screen one day. It certainly has all the elements of a great crime drama and personally, I would love to see Hamer play himself. He has certainly had plenty of practice.
If you would like to hear Bob Hamer discuss the book, he is currently scheduled to appear on the Michael Reagan Show today at 7:30 pm (Eastern) and on The O’Reilly Factor on September 24. Sample chapters of the book are available at BobHamer.net.