Thursday, December 26, 2019

Sidewalk Saint by Phillip DePoy

First Sentence:  It doesn't take long to wake up when there's a gun in your face.

Nelson Roan demands that Child Protective Services agent Foggy Moscowitz find his 11-year-old daughter Etta.  He's not the only one looking for her.  It seems Etta has perfect memory and knows something she shouldn't.  How do you convince a bunch of bad guys that not even Etta doesn't know what that is?  It's up to Foggy to find her, and keep her safe until he can figure out how to neutralize the danger to Etta permanently.

Talk about an effective hook.  This is not a book where you read a paragraph for a quick try, planning to sit down with it later.  This is a book where you read the first sentence and keep reading.  The case is intriguing.  One wants to know where it's going, and the plot twists start very early on.

DePoy not only captures your attention, but his unique descriptions bring the characters to life--"His skin was grey, and his eyes were the saddest song you ever heard, times ten."  His use of language is wonderful--"The camp seemed to have a life of its own.  It wasn't just the leftover smells, cook fires, swamp herbs and tobacco. It was like an eerie echo was still reverberating around the concrete walls. Like old conversations were still hanging in the air.  Like ghosts were wandering free." 

As for Foggy, DePoy informs readers of who he is, his background, and how he got where he is and eventually, the meaning if the book's title.  Foggy's philosophy may make one think--"I was always a big believer in is. Not should be, or ought to. Is.  That's very powerful, because it is the only reality.  Whatever it is you were doing, that was the only thing that truly existed. Everything else was a fantasy." Foggy also makes an insightful self-observation--"To me that was the weird thing about having a reputation as a good guy.  Too many people expected me to be good.  Which I wasn't especially.  I was just a guy trying to make up for what he'd done wrong." A nice explanation of the title helps one to understand Foggy better.  

 DePoy's characters, on both sides of the law, are far from ordinary, which is a large part of the appeal.  They are quirky, interesting, capable and surprising.  His children are refreshingly smart, capable, and astute--"You know you're too smart for your own good, right?' I suggested.  'Oh, yes,' she said.  That's my main problem."  He really does write some of the best dialogue. 

There is a nice element of mysticism.  It doesn't overwhelm the plot, but instead, it adds another interesting layer too it.  In a way, it balances the bad stuff.  The turns this story takes are more dizzying than a state fair teacup ride.  Not just any author can come up with a plot point to destroy a mobster and his business via a phone call

"Sidewalk Saint" is a fun, twisty book filled with quirky, unique characters.  There's violence, but minimal on-page death, but the story also gives one plenty of ideas to consider.

      CPS officer-Foggy Moscowitz-Florida-Contemp
      DePoy, Phillip – 4th in series
      Severn House – Dec 2019


  1. Wow! That is an effective hook! And I like the premise, too - a lot. I'm uncomfortable with books where children come to harm, but it doesn't sounds like a truly gritty sort of a book. Glad you enjoyed it .

  2. Rest assured, DePoy never allows children to be harmed. Only mean adults. :)