Saturday, October 10, 2009

Review: Rizzo's War

This is NOT your average police/crime/forensic procedural. This is a book with great police characters who actually have brains and hearts as well as brawn with some police procedure to help flesh out the characters.

Lou Manfredo's debut novel opens with a crime scene, but quickly shifts to a discussion between the two main characters: Detective Joe Rizzo, a 20+ year veteran of the NYPD, and his newest partner, young just-made detective, eagerly ambitious Mike McQueen.  By the end of the first seven pages, I was determined to dislike Rizzo intensely.  By the end of the book, I was in love with him.  Manfredo's character development is some of the best I've seen in a police procedural, and to me is exceptional in a first book.

As they solve their cases, Rizzo teaches young McQueen the ropes, gingerly stepping through the minefield of looking the other way, developing a series of 'favors' given and returned, and staying just inside the law.  Set in a predominently Italian neighborhood, Joe exhibits the ability to take cultural differences into account when questioning people, when trying to determine what really happened and why, and he insists that McQueen try to apply those same attitudes.

Unlike many books currently featuring policemen and detectives, the cases are not the central point of the book.  While they are well presented, giving us a good view of the dreadful, often demoralizing life of  big city crime solvers and the reader is drawn steadily along to see how they are resolved, the core discussion is the subject of honesty, integrity, right vs wrong, black vs white and how the average cop on the beat is confronted with moral decisions every day.

The author, drawing on his own 25 years experience in the Brooklyn criminal justice system, adds into the mix the inevitable crooked politicians and cops on the take to give us an exciting, tightly drawn picture of law and order in today's world.

In the end, we come to understand Rizzo's motto: "There's no wrong. There's no right. There just is."

This was ARC copy I received from the Early Review program of LibraryThing.  Thanks to Minotaur books for making it available.  It also came with a promtional sampler of the audio book to be released.  If you like your books in this format (as I certainly do) this one is OK, but I didn't care for narrator  Bobby Cannavale's rather flat rendition.


  1. Hi, Tina! This looks like a great read! I love well-written police procedurals!

    By the way, my all-time favorite police procedural is Joseph Wambaugh's The Onion Field. Also, George Pelecanos also writes excellent novels of this genre. You might also want to check out Tana French's novels -- In the Woods and The Likeness.

  2. I actually have two Pelecanos books waiting to be read. Hubby grabbed one and offered to a review for me, but he's been so busy with final edits on his book that he hasn't gotten to it. I keep hinting, like 'are you finished with that yet?' Of course, it's not like I don't have anything else to read.

    I think we have a bunch of Wambaugh's in that pile in the attic. I'm not familiar with Tana French, but since you happen to have such great taste, I'm going to check her out. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Well hello and thanks for stopping by my blog! This is exciting to have another Mainer here! I know there are a few of us but I have been so busy I haven't been able to search many out. With the long winter coming, I will do that. Thanks again and I will come back and catch up on your site. I haven't read a good book lately! How interesting!


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