Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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Skells
by F.P. Lione

Reviewed by C.J. Darlington

"Raw, honest portrayal of a New York City cop."

Most NYPD cops think skells are the scum of the earth. They’re the crackheads, homeless, prostitutes, and other lowlifes who can make an officer’s job a nightmare. Eleven-year veteran Tony Cavalucci’s midnight tour is full of skells. He used to consider them discarded trash worth no one’s time. But lately the skells seem different to Tony—they look lost and wounded.

But the beat goes on. Trouble is always brewing in Midtown Manhattan, and Tony and his partner Joe Fiore confront it all. From the man who accidentally blows himself off the toilet (yes, you read that right), to the discovery of a loft packed with hundreds of marijuana plants, this ain’t no nine-to-five desk job. Sure, there are days nothing happens. Those will be the days Tony’s disfunctional Italian family will provide enough drama to match what the streets throw his way. Has his family always been like this, or is he seeing them differently too? Tony’s definitely changed in the last few months. He’s stopped drinking, goes to church, and is engaged to a nice Christian girl.

There are some days Tony still longs to head on down to his old bar haunts and pound down a few cold ones. But he always stops short. What God thinks matters to him now. Yet whether on patrol or visiting his family, temptations abound. Is it really possible to be a good cop and a Christian?

Skells is not necessarily a plot-driven story. In many ways, reading it is more like reading the memoirs of a cop than reading a novel (think Blue Blood by Edward Conlin without all the family history). This speaks volumes for the realism Frank & Pam Lione (writing as F.P.) manage to convey through its pages. It’s like you’re tagging along in the backseat of Tony’s cruiser. You can almost feel the dirt grinding under your shoes, the adrenaline pulsing through your veins. As Book #3 in the Midtown Blue series, Skells was preceded by The Deuce and The Crossroads. It isn’t required to read them first, but they cover Tony’s life consecutively and will bring a deeper understanding of the characters.

This isn’t your grandma’s Christian fiction (unless she happens to be an ex-cop). There’s definitely some real-life grittiness here. People get drunk. People die. Tony and Fiore stop a rape in progress. But through it all there’s always hope. The Lione’s don’t drag you through the dirt of a cop’s life without picking you up, dusting you off, and sharing the truth: Everyone needs God. The skells and the cops.

Fiction needs more of what F.P. Lione offers. Refreshingly honest, Skells is the raw portrayal of a NYPD cop’s struggle to live out his faith through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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.