Rizzo’s War Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 8 CDs (10 hours)
Read by Bobby Cannavale

Some cops are on The Job for years before making detective. Mike McQueen, however, was simply in the right place at the right time—and he was lucky enough to save the right person. Now the rookie detective has been assigned to Brooklyn’s 62nd Precinct, where he’s partnered up with long-time veteran Joe Rizzo.

It doesn’t take long for McQueen to realize just how good his new partner is. He can read people. He can dig up clues. And he knows how to use the system in his favor. But, as Rizzo always points out, in the NYPD, “There is no wrong. There is no right. There just is.”

After they’ve been together for a while, getting to know each other while handling a variety of cases, McQueen and Rizzo pick up a new case. This one is completely off the books—a big, political mess—and it could mean trouble for the two detectives. Though McQueen has often questioned his partner’s techniques, he’ll have to trust Rizzo if he wants to make it out with his career intact.

Rizzo’s War isn’t a fast-paced crime thriller with a gripping mystery that starts on the first page (or, in the case of the audiobook, on the first track) and finally comes together in the end. It’s not really a police procedural, either—though the procedures definitely come into play. Instead, it’s more of a character study, following two very different cops from very different backgrounds as they spend a year of their careers together.

McQueen is a young cop on his way up. He’s always had an image of what The Job was supposed to be, but after a few years on the streets (and a few weeks as a detective), he’s starting to doubt his career choice. He isn’t developed as well as I would have liked—and he sometimes feels more like a shadow in the background—but it’s through his eyes that most of the story plays out, as he ponders the moral dilemmas of being a cop.

Rizzo, on the other hand, is a tough old cop who’s on his way out. He’s seen it all, and he’s learned how to play the game. He knows everyone—and everyone owes him a favor or two, like a kind of NYPD Godfather. He’s a smart cop, but he’s not always perfect. He doesn’t always play by the rules, but he always gets the job done.

Together, the two make the perfect pair: the seasoned vet who’s learned the ropes and the young, idealistic rookie. Though you’ve most likely seen these characters before, Manfredo builds a captivating story around them. It builds gradually—taking several chapters to introduce the characters and their surroundings before getting into the heart of the story—but it asks a number of thought-provoking questions that will keep you wondering how it’ll all play out in the end.

Rizzo’s War is an unhurried but challenging audiobook that’s sure to make the time melt away as you listen. Cannavale’s narration is appropriately gritty—yet strangely soothing, too. So while it may not be the kind of thrilling read that will get you going on your morning commute, it’s just the thing to help you unwind after a long day.

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