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on October 5, 2007
I've said before that reading an F.P. Lione novel is like watching an un-cut taping of COPS, only you follow the cops home. But in a way that's doing their writing a disservice. A Lione novel is about much more than the domestic disputes, car chases, and gun wielding criminals often found on the tv show. That isn't to say these types of situations don't make it into the pages. They do. But a Lione novel digs deeper than that. By following police officer Tony Cavalucci on and off duty, the Lione's reveal the heart and soul of a cop. Tony's story has already filled three Midtown Blue novels (The Deuce, The Crossroads & Skells), and his saga continues in Clear Blue Sky, the unofficial 4th book.

This time around Tony's closer to marrying his fiance Michelle, and his Italian family continues to voice their objections to the union. Michelle isn't Italian or Catholic, two strikes against her. She had her young son Stevie out of wedlock and there's no sign of the father. Strike three. With the Cavalucci family you're guilty until proven innocent, and even then if you get on their bad side they'll find some way to convict you. Their crazy yet realistic dynamics provide just as much drama as the worst nights on Tony's midnight tour, and it's starting to wear on him. He finds himself torn between loyalty to his blood-family and the family he's come to love as his own. He doesn't want to lose either of them, but sooner or later he's going to have to make a choice.

Not to mention that he and God haven't been on the best of terms lately. Since Tony became a Christian his life has actually gotten harder. Not only does he have to face the temptation to hit the bottle again, but he's facing moral choices right and left. Case in point: he promised to throw his brother Vinny a bachelor party. Vinny wants it wild, like old times. Tony struggles with letting his brother down and standing behind his new-found principles, and Michelle. If it weren't for his Christian partner, Officer Joe Fiore, Tony would probably slip back into his old ways as easily as he slips on his gun belt.

It's an incredibly realistic portrayal of one man's struggle to live out his faith. Being a cop and a Christian are hard enough. Being an Italian cop with a dysfunctional family is harder. How can Tony keep the faith without losing his family?

Like the books before it, Clear Blue Sky is not a novel with a clear plot. But it will keep you riveted. There's something extremely compelling in the Lione's style. Their details are vivid and specific, adding to the authenticity. Like the others in the Midtown Blue series as you read Clear Blue Sky you really do feel like you're tagging along in the back seat of Tony's patrol car as he faces the sad, the serious, and the outrageous on his beat. You'll walk away from the novel with a new appreciation for police officers.

This novel is being marketed as a stand-alone about the 9/11 tragedy, which could be slightly misleading. The actual disaster doesn't occur until well into the story. I had expected to read more about Tony and Joe's experiences on that day. But holding off until the end was a natural and effective way to build tension. You know the Twin Towers are coming down, and you look for it on every page. Brings home the point that September 11th was a normal autumn day like any other.

If you've ever wondered what it's like to be a cop in one of the world's busiest cities, look no further. Pick up any Lione novel and feast on the experience. Clear Blue Sky is no exception. But in this one you'll come away with new insights on what really happened in New York City that fateful September day in 2001--the day the sky was clear and blue.

--Reviewed by C.J. Darlington for TitleTrakk
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on September 14, 2008
Clear Blue Sky is a glimpse into a day in the life of street cops starting on September 2nd leading up to the events of September 11, 2001.

"Greater Love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends." This is what firefighters, policeman and other rescue works gave on that fateful day. The main character Tony Cavalucci is a macho Italian who has been a patrol policeman in New York for the past 11 years. Tony's father had 22 years on the force before that. Tony's precinct is Midtown, Manhattan, in a brick building off 9th Avenue. His partners name is Joe, another macho Italian man who is a born again Christian.

Anyone remember the TV show NYPD BLUE? That show was kind of a day in the life of real policeman on the job and off in their personal lives. September 2nd Tony & Joe volunteer to get some overtime on Labor Day patrolling for a parade heading downtown. The events are similar to the ones I remember NYPD BLUE show to be.

Tony Cavalucci is a new Christian and his Italian family is not so happy about his decision to follow Jesus. Tony is engaged and his brother Vinny wants to give him a bachelor party that will include lots of drinking and prostitutes. Tony and his bride to be don't want any part of this party. Vinny and the rest of the family think that there is something wrong with Tony when he doesn't embrace the bachelor party with open arms. His family and brother think he's no fun anymore. He doesn't want to drink with them, and he doesn't want to have bachelor parties. What's up? The family thinks it must be his fiancé Michelle. Tony's family hopes he hasn't taken this Jesus stuff serious. They think Tony will come around to his old ways soon it will just take a little manipulating by the family to control the situation.

Tony struggles to honor his family and follow Jesus. On an early morning fishing trip with family and a few friends Tony explains why it's ok sometimes to miss church. "If you are only going to church because you're afraid God's gonna punch you, you're going for the wrong reasons anyway. I don't like to miss church and I don't do it very often. But the Lord likes fishing, and He'll be there with us!" I like how he said that.

Tony says to himself "I took Joes' advice (about praying) but I found I couldn't focus trying to pray, drive and keep my eye on the cab at the same time. Joe seemed to be fine with it, so I left the praying to him."

I get a kick out of Tony sharing his struggle as he says "Honestly - Okay - I didn't' say crap, I said the "S" word and was feeling guilty about it. Then I thought about what Joe says, that God forgives me if I ask Him to, and I felt confused that I cursed and now I expected God to forgive me when I did something wrong. ; Then I got aggravated that I had all this crap in my head when I was trying to cuff this guy and was glad when Rooney jumped out of the car and ran over to help me." It's funny and gut honest. I can see this macho Italian man doing this on the streets of New York.

As I read about Tony and Joe and their lives as policemen I kept wondering when September 11 events would happen as I turn the next page. These patrol men are not search and rescue personnel. They are street policemen walking their beat when tragedy strikes. No one was quite sure of what happened when the first plane hit (like the rest of us). I'm sure everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on that day when that first tower got hit. The first mission for the patrol cops was to keep some kind of order on the streets by keeping the traffic and people moving away from the towers. No one was sure of what would happen next. They wanted everyone out of the city and out of danger.

I know that I could not fully grasp what was happening on the streets of New York after that first plane went into the building and then the second when I watched the video clip on TV over and over that day. F.P. Lione interviewed policemen that actually lived thru this. They describe what happened through not only what they saw, but what they heard, smelled, touched and felt physically and emotionally. It was really enlightening to read the description.

TONY Cavalucci actually starts to pray for each person that jumped from the building. He says "I remembered what Joe said about going ino God's thrown room, and I asked God if I could come in and talk to him. I felt inside he told me yes, to come in and pray for these people."

I liked how this book showed Tony and Joe's faith in action on the streets of New York; it's funny, sincere and edgy. It is a heavy subject that the authors handled really well. I know this book will be hard for some to read (because of the subject matter) but I really recommend it.

Nora St. Laurent - Book Club Servant Leader
[...]
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on September 10, 2011
May contain some spoilers . . . although you all know the ending, unfortunately. I "purchased" the free version of Clear Blue Sky with the expectation that it was a real account told by a real cop that was at the World Trade Center during the tragedy. Instead, it's a novel (NOT real for those who need it spelled out like I apparently did). The first 80% (not an exaggeration) is a story of the trials and tribulations of a New York City cop and you are waiting through the first days of September not knowing what day it is and I'm saying to myself "okay, I only have 30% left of the book, is this the morning?? NO. okay 25% left of the book this has to be the day. NO!!" At around 80% . . . Finally, the day comes and the first plane has hit into the world trade center. You don't want to really read about it, but it's expected. The authors have done research and the husband may have been there from what the ending states. The last 20% of the book and the accounts of the attacks and the aftermath was very moving because, honestly, even after 10 years nobody in this country can forget where they were or how they felt during the entire attack, buildings falling, bravery of the FDNY & NYPD, clean up, etc. That part of the writing was worth the rest of the first 80%. (BTW, if the first 80% were a different book and WE ALL WEREN'T EXPECTING A 9-11 STORY, it would have been good by itself.) Problem was it was 2 many ideas meshed into the one book and the family/cop/religious struggles didn't have to take up 80%!!!
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on August 29, 2011
This may be a fictional series, but you wouldn't know that. It feels as if the characters are 100% real life law enforcement officers. This is my first Lione book, but it definitely will not be my last! I picked this up on a bargain day, and couldn't put it down. I had no knowledge that it was a Christian book (of sorts), the main two police officers "Captain America" and Tony are Christians. Not super Christians, but ones that struggle with real life problems. Tony is a recovering alcoholic with an unpleasant family situation, and his partner is a veteran on the force. It's set in NYC and is dated in early September 2001. The book starts around Sept 2, 2001 and goes through Sept 11, 2001 and even a few days past the 9/11 events.

I don't recall reading a non-fiction or fictional book that details the 9/11 experiences from the perspective of the law enforcement. The interesting part is once the planes hit the towers, the lines between cops, fire, paramedics blurred. They all became one brotherhood/sisterhood, striving to serve and assist the people that needed their help. It portrays the struggle to find survivors, working double and triple shifts, having only the clothes on their backs, and items donated to them. This never-before territory details every second of the events leading up to the attacks. It details the confusion of the entire city and country, along with the mass confusion of what to do, where to go, how to survive.

I applaud the writers, husband and wife duo that make up the writer F.P. Lione. This book made me laugh, cry, feel the loss with the department and most of all remember those who gave their all. I loved this book. While others may criticize the Christian tones to the book, I think it made it more realistic that you had some officers who were caught up in life, some that are religious, some that are butt-kissers, etc. There isn't any candy coating of the severity of the problems law officers face across the country every day. There is a reduced number of curse words, which doesn't bother me. All in all, this is an amazing story, well-developed characters and my first taste of a series I will revisit. Highly recommend if you like police drama, thriller, suspense, 9/11 or shows such as: Law and Order, NYPD Blue, Blue Bloods and the new Against the Wall.
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on May 9, 2012
I expected a 9-11 story but I got much more. This is a fascinating look, if fictionalized account, of the life of a New York City police officer that just happens to conclude with the 9-11 attacks and his experiences in the days that followed. It was also the story of a man growing in his faith and learning the meaning of becoming a good man both because of and in spite of those he loves.

I simply could not put it down - first because I was waiting for the big event but then soon it was because I was so invested in the character and his journey.
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on May 4, 2016
Being a retired cop I often will try other officers books. This is well written and entertaining. I laughed out loud several times as I have said and done many of the things written about in this book.
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on August 29, 2011
I thought this book was well done. An excellent reminder of our recent history--a history that can so fast be forgotten in our day to day lives. The book has a slow build up--but you don't mind, because the authors do a wonderful job creating deep characters and situations that are believable. It's a slice of life cop story--revealing how much they really have to deal with daily, and how often they are unappreciated. The author takes you to places that need to be embedded in our minds, lest we repeat our mistakes. Definitely worth reading.
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on August 29, 2011
I read this book on my Kindle and the first 78% (no page numbers in this one) was very boring and I kept thinking that this was supposed to be a book about 9/ll. Based on that much I would have only give the book 2 stars. I'm glad I kept reading it though, because when they finally got to the part about the World Trade Center it was really moving and emotional. Not sure if I'll read another book by the Lione's or not.
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on September 1, 2011
I confess that I only got 1/3 of the way through this book. I thought it was well written and liked the characters. I think this book had definite possibilities. Unfortunately every time I started to get into it we digressed to a lengthy bible study class. I think moral lessons can be even more powerful as actions/dilemmas, etc. within the story instead of needing to quote scripture ad nausium. I just had enough and had to stop reading.
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on September 21, 2011
For a book about 9/11, it took a long time to get there. If you want to know the minute details of what cops in NYC do every day for a living, this is the perfect book to read. And I have to say, for a book written about a Christian, the main character doesn't seem to have a lot of empathy for the people he comes in contact with in his line of work. I was completely turned off by the way he seemed to view all civilians with almost outright contempt. I thought the part about what happened at the WTC to be the most compelling part of the book.
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