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The Deuce
by F.P. Lione

Reviewed by C.J. Darlington

"The bottom line? F.P. Lione is a fresh new voice in Christian fiction."

To the old timers of the NYPD, 42nd Street is known as “the Deuce”, and it’s part of Tony Cavalucci’s beat. The novel begins when Tony, a ten-year veteran patrol officer, is assigned a new partner, Joe Fiore. Not what Tony needs on an already bad day. He’s hungover and struggling to perform his duties, and to make matters worse, Fiore is a Christian. In Tony’s words, “Fiore wasn’t a bad guy. But I didn’t think there was anything I was gonna learn from him. . . . I was just tired and sick and didn’t want to deal with a partner who had more time on than I did.”

But getting a new partner is just the tip of the iceberg of Tony’s troubles. Soon he faces the prospect of having his Staten Island childhood home (where he lives with his brother) sold out from under him by his father and step-mother. This only escalates his drinking problem and the disfunctionality of his Italian family. Will the stresses of the midnight tour and his growing despair over the unwanted changes in his life take him down for good? Or will someone intervene before it’s too late?

This book is not a thriller, although the cover illustration of the racing police cruiser makes it look like one. It reads more like a documentary, or an uncut taping of Cops. And that’s a good thing. By the time you’ve finished The Deuce you’ll have a crisp snapshot of the blood, sweat, and tears in a cop’s life, and you might even pick up some police lingo (like “perp” for perpetrator, “a collar” for an arrest, and “skell” for what the cops call any kind of street skum such as crackheads, drunks or the homeless.)

The Deuce doesn’t sugar-coat anything. Whether it’s the description of a suicide-by-hanging crime scene, or Fiore boldly sharing his faith, this novel is all about reality - what’s it’s really like to work the midnight shift in one of the world’s busiest cities, and what it’s really like when God grabs hold of your life and won’t let go. A little caffeine might help you get through some of the long descriptions (running several paragraphs in spots), but that’s a small quibble for an otherwise excellently written first novel.

When I found out that F.P. Lione (pen name of husband and wife authors Frank and Pam Lione) was a veteran of the NYPD (Frank) and a child of NYPD detectives (Frank and Pam), I knew this book would be authentic. I felt that authenticity on each page as Tony shares the details of his life, both on and off duty. You get the whole 24-7 picture in this one, and the Liones have also included a nice supporting character in Tony’s younger sister, Denise, and a believable love interest in single-mom Michele with her young son, Stevie.

The bottom line? F.P. Lione is a fresh new voice in Christian fiction. The Deuce (Book #1 in the Midtown Blue series) will appeal to fans of police procedurals for its details of police work, but should also appeal to lovers of good gritty fiction as well.

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.