Rizzo's War

Rizzo's War

3.7 16
by Lou Manfredo

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Rizzo’s War, Lou Manfredo’s stunningly authentic debut, partners a rookie detective with a seasoned veteran on his way to retirement in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

“There’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.” This is the refrain of Joe Rizzo, a decades-long veteran of the NYPD, as he passes on the knowledge of his


Rizzo’s War, Lou Manfredo’s stunningly authentic debut, partners a rookie detective with a seasoned veteran on his way to retirement in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

“There’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.” This is the refrain of Joe Rizzo, a decades-long veteran of the NYPD, as he passes on the knowledge of his years of experience to his ambitious new partner, Mike McQueen, over a year of riding together as detectives in the Sixty-second Precinct in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. McQueen is fresh from the beat in Manhattan, and Bensonhurst might as well be China for how different it is. They work on several cases, some big, some small, but the lesson is always the same. Whether it’s a simple robbery or an attempted assault, Rizzo’s saying always seems to bear out.

When the two detectives are given the delicate task of finding and returning the runaway daughter of a city councilman, who may or may not be more interested in something his daughter has taken with her than in her safety, the situation is much more complex. By the end of Rizzo and McQueen’s year together, however, McQueen is not surprised to discover that even in those more complicated cases, Rizzo is still right—there’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.

Rizzo’s War is an introduction to a wonderful new voice in crime fiction in the Big Apple, ringing with authenticity, full of personality, and taut with the suspense of real, everyday life in the big city.

Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
…Manfredo tells his story well…Rizzo's War is a solid debut.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Manfredo's debut introduces a likable if predictable hero, Det. Joe Rizzo, a white knight in the dark city of New York. Though pondering retirement after 27 years on the force, Rizzo is content to nurture a new partner, Mike McQueen, a young NYPD detective who's quickly risen in the ranks through equal parts skill and political opportunity. Together, they tackle cases both big and small, though most of the action involves a missing teenager whose father is a shady Brooklyn councilman. The author excels at moving his plot forward and creating a realistic landscape that shows both the politics and practice of police work. A wonderful husband and dad, Rizzo drops chestnuts of wisdom at every turn. McQueen, meanwhile, comes across as fawning and naïve. Through several subplots, Manfredo lays the foundation for future entries, but their success may require a new dynamic for the syrupy monotony of the two main characters' relationship. 100,000 first printing. (Oct.)
Library Journal
A new cop and a seasoned cop: the formula's old as the hills, but it still works. Joe Rizzo has 26 years on the force; he's a good cop but makes his own rules, as he tells new partner Mike McQueen. Mike's only recently been jumped to the rank of inspector, and he's not sure he wants Rizzo as partner. Internal Affairs thinks that Rizzo is dirty, and Mike doesn't want any blotches on his record. Then they're placed on assignment to find an underhanded politician's missing mentally ill daughter; when he gets hold of her, Daddy wants to put her away in a loony bin where she can't hurt his chances for reelection. The two cops learn to respect each other as they face off a half-insane biker leader and a slimy Mafia boss and deal with assorted lowlifes in their search for the girl. But the ones they have to watch out for most are in City Hall. VERDICT With Ed McBain gone, there's need for a quality New York City police procedural series, and Manfredo could fill the bill with this debut featuring two appealing cops. This may attract fans of McBain and Joseph Wambaugh, but Manfredo is his own man, and his novel should have broad appeal. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 6/1/09; with a 100,000-copy first printing and library marketing.]—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Gritty, gripping first novel deconstructs the NYPD the way Joseph Wambaugh once anatomized the LAPD. Two cops, one a savvy veteran, the other just as smart but a bit starry-eyed. Strangers to each other, they're about to become partners in Brooklyn's 62nd Precinct. Detective Joe Rizzo is in the twilight of an exceptional career. He's seen it all; understands the often murky ways of the NYPD; and can be cavalier about legalities when they stand in the way of what matters most to him: getting the job done. "There is no right. There is no wrong," runs Joe's mantra. "There just is." Mike McQueen, 28, has arrived at the 62nd after an exemplary apprenticeship in uniform, but first-rate performance is not what's earned him his brand-new shield. He knows he got lucky, was in the right place when an important person needed help, rendered it and reaped the benefits. Mike's ambitious. He sees himself in high command one day and in the meantime wants nothing blotting his copybook. Joe has long since let ambition go; besides, he has a certain ongoing, promotion-negating problem with Internal Affairs. Though respectful of each other's talents and abilities, the two approach partnership with caution. Mike is leery of Joe's short cuts. Joe isn't sure that Mike will have his back in any and all circumstances. Now a test looms. A powerful politician's emotionally unstable daughter has gone missing, and the partners are charged with finding her. The assignment will confront them with the systemic corruption both find despicable, and with attendant dilemmas. Which means, of course, that hard decisions must be made. Strong characters and a compelling story. Manfredo has logged 25 years in the criminal justicesystem, and it shows on every authentic page. First printing of 100,000

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Meet the Author

Lou Manfredo served in the Brooklyn criminal justice system for twenty-five years. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and Brooklyn Noir. This is his first novel. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now lives in New Jersey with his wife.

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Rizzo's War (Joe Rizzo Series #1) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"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
Romulus73 More than 1 year ago
A really great read. The characters were so real and down to earth. It makes you wonder (for those not from the streets) and reinforces (for those from the streets) what actually happens out there on the streets of NYC. Life is tough for cops and people in general and tough decisions have to be made. Lou Manfredo's characters make these decisions with the same effort that we sometimes have to.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Cop stories are a dime a dozen, as are tv cop stories. If you are going to write one, you need a hook, as the author might say. Here the hook is a moral dilemma, but then, that's not all that new either. I think Lou Manfredo does his best job when the cops are on duty; off-duty things don't gell so well. The "big case" doesn't ring very true, especially with the motorcycle gangs. But, I did enjoy the story and would like to encourage the author to take to heart some of the suggestions he is receiving here. I think these characters could have a future.
Lollypop99 More than 1 year ago
This is Lou Manfredo's first book and I am telling you now it is a winner! Go Lou! I am looking forward to future books from this author and found "Rizzo's War" fast paced, edge of the seat suspense, just juicy. Hope to read more from him.
mental More than 1 year ago
Very pleased with the way things came together. Living in Brooklyn I saw the story unfold before my eyes. Congratulations to Mr. Manfredo, job well done.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Twenty-seven years with NYPD has Detective Sergeant Joe Rizzo considering retirement as police work is the game of a younger man or woman. He is asked to mentor his young new partner, Mike McQueen, who has risen in only six years on the force rather quickly because he has proven he has the ability but also more important he has connections ever since he rescued the roommate of the mayor's daughter. Joe likes the energy of his partner and puts off retirement though the spring in his step (and the car seat) is not what it once was. They work several cases with the most visible being a missing teen whose dad is a Brooklyn councilman making a lot of white noise in the background. Other cases are much simpler and less politically connected. The story line is fast-paced even on a tedious stake-out as the audience obtains a tour of Brooklyn through the eyes of the two detectives. Joe is terrific as the highly regarded 'elder statesman" working with a rookie (in terms of detective level that is) while Mike is too hero-worshiping as any moment readers will expect him to shine the shoes of his teacher-hero. Still fans will enjoy this super Bensonhurst police procedural. Harriet Klausner