Edward Conlon: This guy can write.
And guys, he’s got the goods. He’s written Blue Blood in his own wonderfully distinctive voice, and it’s
fabulous. It’s a memoir of his first decade or so with the New York Police
Department, and the guy’s got stories. And he’s good at telling them.
really like being a cop: the grittiness, the cold and the drudgery, and the
And in both his memoir and his novel, he’s captured the
camaraderie of the police. “Partners in a squad car could almost seem married,
in their devotions and divisions, in the conversations they could pick up from
months before, as if they had never stopped talking.” (p. 152)
And this: “We didn’t develop a herd mentality as much as a hive
mentality, instantly known to each other by temperament and task, but a
droning, indistinguishable whole to an outside observer. That’s probably what
it sounded like, too, if you heard us argue over which diner to go to for
breakfast.” (p. 184)
So that stuff is lighter in tone, but there are also some scenes
that make a person catch her breath, and others that make her blink her eyes
really fast to avoid tearing up.
Example: Conlon was part of a team assigned to
sift through the debris from Ground Zero, which had been brought to a landfill.
They would find personal effects and bones and sections of the airplanes. He
writes, “Firemen arrived, with vanloads of hot food—pizza, lasagna,
sandwiches—and we looked at each other with gratitude and pity: they were sorry
for us, because we had to dig, and we were sorry for them, because of what we
dug out. The firemen laid out the food for us and left the tent with their
gear, tenderly cradling recovered boots and helmets as if they were infants.”
[blinking fast here]
I’m a sucker for workplace memoirs (also for workplace TV shows: Mary Tyler Moore, The West Wing, Sports Night, The Office), and this is one of the
identified in me: I like books about the good guy/hero types.
One more thing. I recently read that
Conlon’s retired from the police force to write full-time. This, my friends, is good
news for the reading public.