A veteran cop questions Jesus Christ about the darkness and human suffering he’s seen during his 30 years on the job in LoRusso’s (The World Class Rainmaker, 2012, etc.) novel.
Deputy chief of police Scotty Painter suddenly finds himself in a world of near-perfect serenity, featuring clean air, lush fields, and endless beaches, where he’s finally able to relax the constant vigilance that comes with being a cop. Jesus Christ—here, a wry, loving, reassuring agent of a merciful God—joins him as he struggles with the horrors he’s witnessed in his long career in law enforcement, as well as the fact that he had to take lives in the line of duty. Scotty questions whether he’s done enough with his life; he’s a man who feels his failures more deeply than his successes, fearing that his greatest achievements—such as stopping an abusive husband, training and supporting his fellow officers, and establishing a special counseling program—weren’t enough. LoRusso wrote extensively about officer-involved shootings in his 2013 book When Cops Kill, and in his first work of fiction, he couples that real-world knowledge with a spiritual focus. He presents Scotty as an unimpeachable officer who still wrestles morally with using lethal force. The book’s conversation-with-God approach feels pat. However, the author has a knack for action scenes, keeping them exciting but never exploitative; even in flashbacks, the danger feels very real. Scotty experiences bouts of sudden sleep and pain throughout the narrative, which provides a clue to why he has an audience with Jesus and offers a nice metaphor for life itself. There are some underused story elements, such as the death of Scotty’s father when he was a child, the recent loss of his wife, and his relationship with their daughter, Celina, which take a back seat to tales of his work as a cop.
A navel-gazing but forthright and entertaining spiritual novel.