Mysterious Book Report - Red On Red

Red On Red by Edward Conlon

(Spiegel & Grau, $26.00, 442 pages, ISBN 978-0-385-51917-5)

If Woody Allen had a Harvard degree and was a New York City detective who wrote a novel, Red on Red  by Edward Conlon would be it.  Red on Red has more angst than a busload of teen-agers have drama.  It’s a police procedural with psychological insights into the daily life of a cop, down to the smallest details.

Frankly, I didn’t find this novel as enjoyable as I’d hoped, and had to push myself to finish it.  But that fact shouldn’t discourage anyone who’s interested in the minutiae of the NYPD from reading it . . . nor does it diminish my respect for the author . . . it just never quite struck the right chord in me.  Like the old farmer said, “If everybody liked the same thing, all the young fellers would be after my wife!”

The story arc is long and complex, intricate and well put together.  Others have described it as “often brutal, and often brutally funny.”  It is chock-full of insight into what it’s really like to carry a detective’s gold shield in The Big Apple, and without a doubt one of the finest police procedurals, but with a lot of intellect.


John Dwaine McKenna