A Failure of Verve

TITLE: SWORDFISH

AUTHOR: DAVID MCCLINTICK

PUBLISHER: PANTHEON; 606 PAGES; $25

THE BOTTOM LINE: Numbing detail slows the narrative of a sting operation.

The chronicle of the federal drug bust known as Operation Swordfish, briefly summarized, reads like an episode of Miami Vice scripted by John le Carre. It began in December 1980 in Miami, where Robert Darias, then 46, faced a winter of discontent. A Cuban exile, he had spent 20 months in Fidel Castro's prison camps after being captured during the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. He had also served time in an American pokey for tax fraud, and still...

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