For his literary debut, Coughlin writes a regular-guy comedy with a vengeance, soaked in barroom philosophy and bulging with real-man posturing. Coughlin turns to the headlines for the book's premise. A mob of angry Hasidim storms a Brooklyn precinct demanding protection. Bill Patterson, a tough Irish cop with 21 years on the force, responds the only way he knows how--violently. Billy-clubbing his way through the black-hatted crowd, he escapes in his half-trashed vintage Buick. But it seems his night stick has caught a vociferous assemblyman, and the mayor's on the warpath. The veteran detective is suspended from the force pending further investigation and begins hitting the bottle as hard as he bashed some heads. Having Pop sloshing around their Long Island home sends his family into a suburban funk. Mom, clutching her rosary, lets the house go to pot, and their wiseacre daughter pouts while anxiously awaiting the onset of overdue puberty. Son Charlie, the 19-year-old narrator of this muscular saga, has heavy problems of his own: his fickle ex-girlfriend continues messing with his head; he's flunking out of community college; and, worst of all, he's fed up with his tyrannical Old Man. Through a series of outrageous episodes with and without his father, Charlie discovers how much they're alike. Together they tread that fine line between love and violence, and reaffirm the pull of family loyalty. Who knows? Charlie may even become a cop himself someday. Coughlin's punchy prose and brisk pacing come to an abrupt halt at the novel's washed-out ending: the city simply drops the case. But ambiance and texture triumph over plot in this unabashed paean to policeman.