Cindy Crosby: Reviewer. Police drama lovers, this is
your book! The husband and wife team of "F. P. Lione" (Frank
and Pam) are back with The Crossroads, the second
installment in the "Midtown Blue" series and follow-up to The
Deuce. If you haven't read the first novel, stop here and
do so. Although this can be read as a stand-alone, you'll miss too much
background. Plus, the first one is too good to miss.
The story opens as middle-aged single cop Tony Cavalucci and his New
York City police department prepare for the chaos of New Year's Eve in
Times Square. Since The Deuce, Tony hasn't had
a drink for almost six months. His stalwart Christian partner, Joe Fiore,
encourages him with scripture verses and pep talks. Tony is dating Michele,
a teacher and unmarried mother of four-and-a-half year old Stevie. Although
he's thinking about marriage, he's gotten her earrings rather than "the
ring" for Christmas.
Tony's volatile extended family continues to give him trouble. "Hey,
we put the fun in dysfunctional," says Tony to Joe. When Tony brings
Michele and Stevie to his family Christmas get-together, things quickly
disintegrate. Muses Tony, "Michele is always so tactful, she would
never come out and say they were a bunch of psychopaths." As a result,
Michele pulls back from the relationship, and Tony sees his family —
and how he interacts with them — in a new light. In the process,
he and his mother begin a reconciliation of sorts.
This second novel, like the first, still has some rough spots. The authors
take care to explain some of the police lingo, but the explanations often
feel intrusive and interfere with the flow of the story (a glossary might
have served readers better). In some places, one wonders why an abbreviation
was used at all (Tony talks about his RDO, then in parenthesis it says
"regular day off." Why not just say it?) A consistent problem
in both novels is that too many sentences begin consecutively with the
same word or words and many of the sentences are the same length. There
is also an overuse of the word "I." ("I unlocked the door…
I tossed my keys… I had gotten a cell phone…) Although most
readers won't consciously register these facts, they will likely find
the writing choppy and repetitive in places.
Many things have improved since the first novel, including the mechanics
of the characters and the more careful use of details that enhance, rather
than bog down, the storyline. What remains the same is the Liones' terrific
insider look at New York City and the day-to-day work of policemen working
the streets. Both husband and wife are Italian American children of NYPD
detectives, and Frank is a veteran of the New York Police Department.
The Liones' Italian-American heritage shows in the wonderful descriptions
of food and of family get-togethers. Indeed, anyone reading the plethora
of foodie details included here (the cops can't get a bagel without the
Liones describing each flavor and topping) will feel compelled to fix
a snack while they continue reading. However, beware: the "ick"
factor is still in full play from book one. Some of the scenes include
Tony helping an alcoholic repeatedly throw up buckets of blood, drunks
wetting their pants in the police car, etc.
The Liones have a knack for using humor to leaven some of the darkness
of police work, and several of the incidents are so bizarre you figure
they must be real (the woman answering the door naked, the man dressed
as a vampire in a coffin). I laughed out loud many times while reading,
especially at the arrest of Santa Claus (drunk in a bar with The Grinch).
The authors also excel at offering interesting, behind-the-scenes police
factoids. I found the logistics of handling between 500,000 and a million
people in Times Square for New Year's Eve fascinating — who would
have thought the deceptively simple gathering of so many folks on a holiday
required such organization and careful handling?
Fans of The Deuce will be delighted with this
second installment in the "Midtown Blue" series, which offers
the same mix of humor, grit, and relationship tangles that made the first
novel so interesting.
— Contact Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Mills: Christian Fiction Reviewer.
Book one, The Deuce introduced us to Tony,
a hard drinking, hard partying, hurting New York cop. Already backed into
a corner and feeling like he has no place left to turn, he’s blindsided
by a new partner who shows him that God has another plan for his life.
Towards the end of The Deuce, Tony acts on his
partner’s encouragement and turns his life over to God. But does
that mean all his problems disappear in a cloud of heavenly glory? Not
by a long shot.
In The Crossroads, Tony faces pressure from
all sides, as everyone demands that he change. His family wants him to
change back to the man that he was, the one they were comfortable with.
His friends want their bar buddy back, someone who won’t make them
uncomfortable with any newfound morality.
His partner wants him to grow in Christ, to learn more about what it means
to be a Christian. And his girlfriend wants him to stop repeating the
same old destructive family cycles that have been a part of his life for
Tony suddenly doesn’t fit in his own world.
So what’s he supposed to do? Would he be better off forgetting the
morality stuff and going back to his old ways? Can he find a way to balance
reality and faith on the hard streets of New York?
Tony’s struggles with the pressures and expectations set upon him
remind me of why I loved the first book in this series. The gritty reality
of The Deuce grabbed me, and The
Crossroads has the same quality behind it. Husband and wife
author team F.P. Lione have captured the reality of life, the good times
and the rough ones, and the decisions that don’t seem to have a
Although The Crossroads is a police procedural
novel, it focuses more on Tony’s life than a case. I’ve decided
to call this series ‘cop-lit’ because it is character driven
rather than plot driven, and centers around the changes in Tony and how
those changes affect each aspect of his life and his work as one of N.Y.P.D.’s
This book filled a hole for me in the Christian fiction world. It’s
literary in style, and yet a gritty and real cop drama with an interesting
story line. In the past, I’ve read books in the non-Christian market
to fill my need for this type of book. I don’t think I’ll
need to look there anymore.