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...reveals the heart and soul of a cop
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