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"Rizzo's War" was readable, but one can easily tell that it is a first effort, and it would have benefited greatly from closer editing. The title character, Joe Rizzo, is an interesting older cop: wise, tough, smart, etc. This covers all the things you'd expect in the formula of the older cop partnered with new young guy. The new young guy, McQueen, is handsome, compassionate, educated, etc., thus covering all the things you'd expect in the young partner. The problem is that these two characters go through the book making speeches at each other, so the readers are clear that they exactly fit those character types, even if it sounds like a declamation contest instead of natural conversation. There were an annoyingly high number of times where Rizzo gave a 'fatherly advice' sermon to McQueen, or 'explained the way of the world'. A more seasoned author, I think, would have shown the reader who the characters were, instead of having the characters tell us over and over who they were, through their stilted speech.
Additionally, the book doesn't appear as a cohesive unit. Instead, the first part of the book is background, telling us who these two cops are, and how they ended up as partners. The second part of the book is the 'big case'. We might need the background to understand their motivations in how they deal with the 'big case', but presenting the story this way is disappointing. It would have been better if the author had interwoven the background with the big case, instead of keeping them in two separate parts. It was as though the author's character notes were compiled in the first part of the book, and then the part with the plot was added later.
The main flaw in the book, however, is the problem of "Chekhov's gun". Anton Checkhov remarked, "One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." There were entirely too many elements in the story that had nothing to do with the plot. For instance, McQueen had a brief love interest in the beginning of the story, but the relationship ended. There were references to this relationship throughout story, but it had very little to do with what was happening later in the story. This was one of those elements - among many in this novel - where the reader finishes the book and thinks, "That didn't need to be in there." Unfortunately, there are many elements like that in the book; one reaches the end only to realize that if all of these unnecessary elements were cut from the novel, the remaining parts would only be a short story.
Unfortunately, that short story is neither highly original nor a nail-biter. Not every plot has to break new ground. I suspect that readers, like myself, who like novels about cops, don't mind if the story isn't exactly new. However, when the novel has as many problems as this one does, there needs to be some element that makes reading the story worthwhile. I didn't find it. The characters were developed sufficiently, but they were types. The plot wasn't original, and it didn't bother showing up until the second part of the novel. The dialogue was bad and there were entirely too many extraneous elements in the story.
In the end, I can say I enjoyed the novel the same way I enjoy cop shows that I've seen in reruns for years. I know the characters; the plot isn't important. I can fall asleep in the middle of the show and not miss much. Unfortunately, these aren't qua
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