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He was the biographer of Frank Serpico, a New York City Police officer who testified against police corruption. He is also the author of the number one New York Times bestseller, Underboss, about the life and times of Sammy "The Bull" Gravano.
His other notable bestsellers include The Valachi Papers, Manhunt, and In a Child's Name, recipient of the 1991 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime book. The Valachi Papers, which told the story of Mafia turncoat Joseph Valachi, is widely considered to be a seminal work, as it spawned an entire genre of books written by or about former Mafiosi.
Peter Maas was married to Audrey Gellen Maas, with whom he adopted a son, John-Michael Maas. Audrey died in 1975. He died in New York City, survived by his third wife, Suzanne, and their son, Terrence. He made a brief cameo as himself in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.
- 1967—The Rescuer: The Extraordinary Life of the Navy's "Swede" Momsen and His Role in an Epic Submarine Disaster. ASIN B000IDBZ58 (Note: The Terrible Hours pulls material from this book.)
- 1969—The Valachi Papers ISBN 0-399-10832-7 filmed as The Valachi Papers
- 1973—Serpico: The Cop Who Defied the System ISBN 0-670-63498-0 filmed as Serpico
- 1974—King of the Gypsies ISBN 0-670-41317-8 filmed as King of the Gypsies
- 1979—Made in America: A Novel ISBN 0-670-44555-X
- 1983—Marie: A True Story ISBN 0-671-60773-1 filmed as Marie
- 1986—Manhunt: The Incredible Pursuit of a CIA Agent Turned Terrorist ISBN 0-394-55293-8
- 1989—Father and Son: A Novel ISBN 0-671-63172-1
- 1990—In a Child's Name: The Legacy of a Mother's Murder ISBN 0-671-69416-2 filmed as In a Child's Name
- 1994—China White: A Novel ISBN 0-671-69417-0
- 1996—Killer Spy: Inside Story of the FBI's Pursuit and Capture of Aldrich Ames, America's Deadliest Spy ISBN 0-446-60279-5 (Note: This is the mass market paperback edition.)
- 1997—Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia ISBN 0-06-018256-3 filmed as Witness to the Mob
- 1999—The Terrible Hours: The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History ISBN 0-06-019480-4