I needed a couple of days to work out my feelings for “Denny Malone,” the good cop/bad cop character in The Force: A Novel. Whatever I end up thinking of Malone, a fictional character, it is a testament to a writer and a book that I was so conflicted.

This book was included on my summer reading list and is one of the last I’m finishing up before moving on to making a fall reading list. (My summer reading list is updated with several reviews and reflections.)

Denny Malone is a bad cop in the way that he takes bribes, takes money and drugs from crime scenes, and even sells the drugs back to the street. He does this all supposedly to “provide for his family” even though he usually chooses not to see them. These are some of the problems I have with Denny Malone. Also that “The fuck” without a question mark is often the way he asks a question in the dialogue.

But Denny Malone is a good cop because he works the rough streets in New York and he actually loves New York. His sense of justice for perpetrators is generally fair if not legal.

Here’s a passage about why he loves New York:

“The sweet, fetid richness of the city. He never really got it until he left his Irish-Italian blue-collar, cop-fireman Staten Island ghetto and moved to the city. You hear five languages walking a single street, smell six cultures, hear seven kinds of music, see a hundred kinds of people, a thousand stories and it’s all New York.”

And why he can’t go back to suburbia after doing the job he does:

“He tried to explain it to Shelia, but how do you do that without bringing her into a world you don’t want to put on her? How do you go from a tenement where the mommy-daddy combo is so fucked up on crack, and you fund a baby dead for a week, her feet chewed by rats, and then take your own kids to Chuck E. Cheese? You supposed to tell her about that? ‘Share’ that? No, the right thing to do is put a smile on your face and talk to the tire salesmen about the Mets or what-the-fuck ever because no one wants to ear about that and you don’t want to talk about it, you just want to forget it, and good luck with that, ace.”

The book was insight into New York and this life; hopefully it’s not completely realistic, but Malone did have some opinions I appreciated:

“Guns and dope are the soup and sandwich of American crime. As much as the Job is obsessed with heroin, it’s more obsessed with getting guns off the streets. And for good reason–it’s the cops who have to deal with the murders, the wounded, cops who have to tell the families, work with them, try to get them some justice.

And of course it’s guns on the street that kill cops.

The NRA assholes will tell you that “guns don’t kill people, people do.” Yeah, Malone thinks, people with guns.”

The Black Lives Matter issues are also entwined into the story line, and Denny calls murder when he sees it. So I do appreciate “Denny Malone” even though he is crooked and cusses too much.

If you can handle all the above you will probably enjoy the book!

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