Originally posted Nov. 27, 2008
Reviewed for Front Street Reviews
I love this book. It takes place mostly in the 1950s and 60s, an interesting era. It feels so real, so personal, is funny and serious all at the same time. It reads like the memories of a Police/FBI veteran telling vignettes to perhaps a grandchild about his adventures and misadventures in his career. J.P. Morgan has almost forty years’ involvement in law enforcement at many levels so it is not unexpected that this book would present that kind of hominess that makes it feel personal. This however is a book of fiction, and you will be surprised to find out who is apparently telling the stories. Our main character, Jim Utze is an absolute delight as he spends his childhood onward following his hero “The Lone Ranger’s” code of ethics. Being part Pima he also is following Tonto from his (Tonto’s) earliest days before the Lone Ranger but growing up in the “paleface” world, the Lone Ranger is his main hero. His mother was from Ireland and Jim is raised mostly as a single child of a Catholic family. She would like to see him become a priest, but Jim has other plans.
College appears to him to be the answer to a compromise with his mother, but it is not long before he realizes he can’t afford to get through four years of college without more money. His father who had been in the war suggested that he go into the service (as long as he was at college he would not be drafted, but that would be redundant if he couldn’t continue anyway). He mentioned the GI Bill and suggested the Marines. For a young man who lived by the rules of the Lone Ranger, this was a first introduction into a world where he might have to actually kill someone. At the same time, his goal in life was to be a detective for the NYPD. He spends most of his time in the NYPD on the narcotics squad and must learn that you can’t always talk your way around problems. The plus is that he is paired up with equally likeable partners. Throughout his years of working, he continues with his college plans with the FBI as a part of the future.
He meets an Israeli airline security girl and although he is very interested and infatuated with her, he remains unsure of how trustworthy she is, and of just exactly who she is and what role she plays; something just does not seem to sit right. I will not give away the plot of why he feels this way, nor the many ways he avoids violence in his work but it is well-worth reading. The book ends with a few loose ends, or rather ends looking for another book. The Epilogue is fascinating and seems to bring promise of another installment of all these characters. I’m sure I will be first in line when it comes out! I was that immersed in the book and absolutely enjoyed it. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a dollop of humour with their dish of police interaction. 5 stars