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Edward Conlon

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Edward Conlon "is a detective with the New York City Police Department. A graduate of Harvard, he has published articles inThe New Yorker and Harper's and his work has been included in The Best American Essays. He is the author of a memoir, Blue Blood, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, A New York Times Notable Book, and a New York Times bestseller."

According to the book description of  Red on Red, "The author of the celebrated memoir Blue Blood (May be the best account ever written of life behind the badge. Time) delivers a mesmerizing, relentless thriller that rings with the truth of what it takes to be an NYPD detective. Nick Meehan is introspective, haunted, and burned out on the Job. He is transferred to a squad in the upper reaches of Manhattan and paired with Espositoa hungry, driven cop who has mostly good intentions but trouble following the rules. The two develop a fierce friendship that plays out against a tangle of mysteries: a hanging in a city park, a serial rapist at large, a wayward Catholic schoolgirl who may be a victim of abuse, and a savage gang war that erupts over a case of mistaken identity. Red on Red captures the vibrant dynamic of a successful police partnershipthe tests of loyalty, the necessary betrayals, the wedding of life and work. Conlon is a natural and perceptive storyteller, awake to the ironies and compromises of life on the Job and the beauty and brutality of the city itself."

The Washington Post said of Blue Blood, it is the “memoir of life in the New York City Police Department, Edward Conlon would seem just the man to keep his two worlds apart. Harvard-educated and a gifted writer, Conlon has been contributing the "Cop Diary" to the New Yorker under the name of Marcus Laffey. But anyone expecting a neat separation between officer and writer will be disappointed. Conlon is a cop's cop and his book, a dazzling epic of street life and rough camaraderie, is far more rewarding than any disgruntled Serpico-style tell-all could ever be.”

From the History of the New York Police Department 

Watchmen were required by ordinance (July 13, 1829) to callout fires. The Captains of each Watch District were ordered to instruct the Watchmen under their direction to cause every alarm of fire to be made as general as possible, by crying aloud the mane of the street or post where the fire might be. Watchmen were allowed fifty cents for attendance as witnesses at Special Sessions, by ordinance, December 27, 1830.

When on duty, Watchmen wore a fireman's old-fashioned leather hat, bereft of it upright front plate. This hat was varnished twice a year, and soon became as hard as iron. From this they came to be called "Leatherheads." They were also dubbed "Old Charlies." They had no other badge of office than this hat, and a thirty-three inch club. For many years, like their Dutch predecessors, they called out the hours of the night, but this practice ceased long before the old Charlies has run their course. For over half a century the city was policed by these Watchmen. The system worked well enough while the city remained in its "teens;" but an ever increasing population, and constantly expanding area, in time called for a change in the management and organization of our public guardians. The jaded stevedore, teamster, or mechanic, could hardly be expected to display much enterprise or energy, when, on each alternate night, he sallied forth to patrol the streets. It is safe to assume that he performed his duty in a perfunctory manner, and that the "knights of the jimmy," and other midnight marauders, did not hold him in especial reverence or dread.

The only day police during the regime of the aforesaid Leatherheads, were the Constables, generally two from each ward, and the Marshals, who were assigned to the Courts, it was, then, the province of the Watchmen, or "Leatherheads," to protect life and property, to preserve public order, and generally to keep the criminal classes within proper subjection. He did not always succeed in doing his, it is true; but perhaps that was not entirely his fault. The young bloods of those days took liberties with this official personage which no young man of our time, who valued his health and reputation, would dare take with one of "The Finest." The old "Leatherheads" had often to suffer the pranks of wild young men about town, who, like their cockney prototype, thought that a night's spree would not be appropriately ended except they had played some practical joke on the City Watch, which took the form generally of upsetting a watch-box with a snoring Leatherhead in it, or t lasso the sentry-box with a stout rope, and drag it along with it imprisoned occupant. But these experiences did not seriously ruffle the temper of the Watchmen, and so nobody was much the worse off for those irregular pleasantries.


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Amazon.com said of Blue Blood, “As a Harvard graduate and regular writer for the New Yorker, Edward Conlon is a little different from most of his fellow New York City cops. And the stories he tells in his compelling memoir Blue Blood are miles away from the commonly told Hollywood-style police tales that are always action packed but rarely tethered to reality. While there is action here, there's also political hassle, the rich and often troubling history of a department not unfamiliar with corruption, and the day to day life of people charged with preserving order in America's largest city. Conlon's book is, in part, a memoir as he progresses from being a rookie cop working the beat at troubled housing projects to assignments in the narcotics division to eventually becoming a detective. But it's also the story of his family history within the enormous NYPD as well as the evolving role of the police force within the city. Conlon relates the controversies surrounding the somewhat familiar shoo! ting of Amadou Diallou and the abuse, at the hands of New York cops, of Abner Louima. But being a cop himself, Conlon lends insight and nuance to these issues that could not possibly be found in the newspapers. And as an outstanding writer, he draws the reader into that world. In the book's most remarkable passage, Conlon tells of the grim but necessary work done at the Fresh Kills landfill, sifting through the rubble and remains left in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 (a section originally published in The New Yorker). In many ways, Blue Blood comes to resemble the world of New York City law enforcement that Conlon describes: both are expansive, sprawling, multi-dimensional, and endlessly fascinating. And Conlon's writing is perfectly matched to his subject, always lively, keenly observant, and possessing a streetwise energy.”

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