Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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The Crossroads
by F.P. Lione

Reviewed by C.J. Darlington

"...a story of reconciliation, consecration and unforgettable extremes."

Tony Cavalucci has just helped arrest Santa Claus and The Grinch, and it only goes downhill from there on his busy midnight tour. Soon he’s facing a machette-wielding bandit, praying he won’t have to shoot the guy. It’s all in a night’s work for this ten-year NYPD veteran whose story began in F.P. Lione’s previous book, The Deuce.

The days before New Year’s are busy ones in New York, where “The Crossroads of the World become the Center of the Universe as the eyes of the planet look to Times Square.” It’s also a chance for Tony to earn some OT (Overtime), and he welcomes the diversion from his Italian family’s disapproval of his girlfriend and her young son. When Christmas Eve dinner at his grandmother’s becomes a near brawl as passionate family members verbally (and even physically) duke it out, Tony realizes he has to choose his loyalties fast – before he loses the only woman he’s ever wanted to marry.

With his overtime detail of checking cars for bombs in the parking garages with his partner, Joe Fiore, there isn’t much time for pondering his family troubles. It’s fast and furious during the holidays in The City That Never Sleeps, and Tony wrestles more than once with hitting the bottle again. He’s been sober for five months, and he’s proud of it, but the stresses are enough to stretch any guy to his breaking point. Will he have the strength to do what he knows is right, or will he relapse into his old hard-living ways?

A brand new Christian, Tony refreshingly doesn’t have it all together. He still smokes. He’s still tempted to drink and look at women. But there is a difference in his life. He gets his job done, but with more compassion now. He helps a rookie cop the old-timers would’ve ostracized. He doesn’t hate the perps like he used to. He’s a work-in-progress, and he knows it, but he’s truly making an effort to live out what he now believes. If The Deuce was all about Tony’s journey toward God, The Crossroads is all about his struggle to live out his faith when life, and the people around him, go crazy.

As in The Deuce, you’ll be treated to more cop lingo, like a “bus” for an ambulance, and “RMP” for Radio Motor Patrol vehicle, but I appreciated how the Liones took even more care to explain unfamiliar terms, often including a definition in parentheses. And although Tony’s often tedious directions of where he and Fiore travel on patrol (we drove down this street, then turned down that, then headed east on this) will probably be appreciated best by those familiar with New York City, it does give you the feel for their intimate knowledge of the streets.

Frank & Pam Lione aren’t afraid to get down and dirty in their stark portrayal of a cop’s life, but they never resort to anything gratuitous. The encounters Tony and Fiore experience run the gamut, from the humorous (the bar-fight encounter of the men dressed as Santa and the Grinch), and the gruesome (pulling the personal effects off a dead man in a multiple car accident), to the downright bizarre (an eery man who sleeps in a coffin). Here’s a novel that reveals the true 411 of policework -- it’s not all chase scenes and gun battles.

Highly worth your time, The Crossroads is a story of reconciliation, consecration, and unforgettable extremes.

C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.