Brooklyn-bred author pens gritty new cop drama

The Brooklyn Paper
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Before engaging eager borough readers on Detective Joe Rizzo’s ash-gray outlook on life amid the hard-scrabble streets of Bensonhurst next week, author Lou Manfredo is going to do something distinctly Brooklyn.

“I’m meeting up with friends at Crispy Pizzeria on 13th Avenue,” the Brooklyn bred-author told this paper. “I used to hang out there all the time. In fact, that’s where I met my wife.”

To Manfredo, Brooklyn is a palette of vibrant colors. Those colors bleed all over “Rizzo’s War,” a gritty, authentic police thriller published by St. Martin’s Press that Brooklynites can get their hands on at a special reading at Bay Ridge’s BookMark Shoppe, 8415 Third Avenue, at 7 p.m. on October 9, where Manfredo will be handing out autographed copies.

Based almost entirely in the borough Manfredo loves, “Rizzo’s War” is the first of a three-part story arc involving the grizzled pragmatist and his ambitious new partner Mike McQueen as they investigate crime in the streets protected by Bensonhurst’s 62nd Precinct.

Manfredo, a graduate of New Utrecht High School who currently lives in New Jersey, picked Bensonhurst as the backdrop to the story because those were the streets of his youth.

“I spent most of my time on 13th Avenue and 86th Street,” he said through his thick, all-too Brooklyn “fugghetabo­utit” Italian accent. “When I think of home, I think of those streets or downtown Brooklyn where I worked for 25 years in the Brooklyn court system.”

Manfredo himself is distinctly Brooklyn. In fact, he sounds more like Al Pacino’s character Benny “Lefty” Ruggiero in “Donnie Brasco” than a published author who has seen his short stories in “Brooklyn Noir” and “Ellery Queen Magazine.”

“When I speak no one ever thinks I’m from London,” he jokes.

But that’s ok. We’re sure Rizzo sounds the same way when he rattles off his motto “There’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.”

That dark outlook is put to the test in “Rizzo’s War” when the two detectives are sent to find and return a City Councilman’s runaway daughter, although it becomes unclear if the shady pol truly wants his daughter back, or something that she may have taken with her.

“Rizzo’s War” is Manfredo’s first novel, bringing to a conclusion a career of writing that began when he was about ten, when he first tried to pen a “Hardy Boys” novel.

“When I was a kid growing up my father worked too jobs, so I didn’t see him that much,” he said. “When I got up to go to school he was asleep and when I went to sleep he wasn’t home yet. But every now and again I’d wake up and on the table next to my bed wrapped in brown paper was a ‘Hardy Boys’ book that he would leave me. I loved those books so much that I tried to write one.”

“I still have them,” he said. “They’re in the shelf in my den. They’re always in the back of my mind when I write.”

For more information about Manfredo’s reading and book signing, contact the Bookmark Shoppe at (718) 833-5115.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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