Extremely tough, overwrought memoir of ten years on the beat by a former cop turned novelist (the paperback The Patch, Gulf Stream). Unlike those police writers who deal in irony and nuance, (Wambaugh, etc.), McDonald dishes out enough action to satisfy the most jaded of fans. In this account of a decade (1970-80) as a cop in Fort Lauderdale, McDonald witnesses or participates in shoot-outs, car chases, beatings, mock executions, drownings, child molestationsan avalanche of crime and brutality that nearly overwhelms him: ``I stood there with a tiny tin spoon and tried to shovel shit against the tide.'' He recalls these years of turmoil through a patchwork of stream-of-consciousness, impressionistic snapshots, and anecdotes that read like tight short stories. Angerat crooks, lawyers, judges, the publiccoils through every episode. So does imagery that skirts the edge between revelation and bathos: ``I could only kneel there on that blacktop altar, and look down at the offering of blood on my palms, and guess at the coming judgment.'' He never spares himself, as his marriage collapses and moral numbness creeps in: ``I stood there waiting, relaxed, while the red-haired burglar lay at our feet eating mouthfuls of gravel.'' The horrible merry- go-round continues to swirl until ``it was time to walk away from it, but how do you walk away from yourself?'' High-voltage portrait of the cop as victim and saviorand frighteningly relevant, given the recent L.A. police brutality case. Wallop upon wallop.