Rizzo’s War by Lou Manfredo

(Minotaur, $24.99, 290 pages.  ISBN 978-0-312-53805-7)

  Well dang.  Here it is time for The Mysterious Book Report number eleven.  I thought, since eleven is supposed to be a lucky number, if you believe in four-leaf clovers or other superstitious . . . black cats and such . . . I’d bring a little bit of the unexpected, some good fortune maybe, and do a two-fer.  That’s right, just like sale day at the mall, or that special time from four to seven at the place with all the pink and green neon signs in the front window . . . you know, the “tell her I ain’t here”  place with all that pedal steel guitar on the jukebox and salty stuff in a bowl within easy reach.

     If you were a fan of Ed McBain and the 87th Precinct novels, or Joseph Wambaugh’s LAPD cop capers, you’re gonna love a new author named Lou Manfredo and his sage, war-weary, veteran detective, named Joe Rizzo from Brooklyn’s 62nd precinct.  It’s in an area called Bensonhurst, AKA “Little Italy.”  Manfredo himself is a twenty-five year veteran of the Brooklyn criminal justice system so his books have a clarity, a perfect ring of truth to them that I found refreshing, enjoyable and quite entertaining.

     Manfredo’s first novel is RIZZO’s WAR, written in 2009.  It opened to great reviews, enough that I tracked down a copy in order to read it in series with his second novel, RIZZO’S FIRE, 2011,  (Minotaur, $24.99, 292 pages, ISBN 978-0-312-53806-4).

     In Rizzo’s War, he’s quoted as saying “there’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.”  Veteran detective Joe Rizzo is paired with a young, up-and-coming beat cop from Manhattan named McQueen.  McQueen is being introduced to the complicated and politicized world of the police department bureaucracy, his hopes for advancement hanging on the whims of higher-ups in the NYPD.  Things go from routine to complicated for them when they’re assigned to find the missing daughter of a major Brooklyn politico who may wind up as the next mayor  of New York City.

     Joe Rizzo has been called “a White Knight in a dark world.”  He is both enigmatic and pragmatic, and speaks in the voice of a real cop, one who’s been there, done that so many times he gives the free t-shirts to his kids.

     In Rizzo’s Fire, just out May 2011, Joe Rizzo and his new rookie partner Priscilla Jackson, are tasked with solving the murder of a reclusive man named Robert Lauria, who was dead for ten days before his body was found.  Without witnesses or possible motives, it’s a nearly impossible and thankless job . . . which may be the reason it was given to them.  Rizzo, with his unique, unconventional style, in his unique, unforgettable voice, is put to the test trying to solve this increasingly difficult battle of wills.  Lou Rizzo is the best, most authentic voice of law enforcement to come along in a very long time.


John Dwaine McKenna