Friday, January 11, 2013

Kathleen Gerard - In Transit: A Novel - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

WINNER!
Best Romantic Fiction
New York Book Festival 2011


Can a rookie cop survive the men who cross her path in the NYPD?

When a psychic in a shopping mall tells Rita Del Vecchio that she is "destined for greatness," and she will "marry a man in uniform," the restless, wet-behind-the-ears, 22 year-old decides to finally take control of her life. Rita sets out on a quest to become a New York City Police Officer. But can a spry, feisty, single woman thrive in the gritty world of New York's Finest?

Leaving behind the suburbs of New Jersey and a job as an under-tipped waitress, Rita Del Vecchio hangs up her apron and ballet slippers for a bullet-proof vest. But will she wear it? And if she does, will it protect her on the mean streets of Manhattan? Can it also protect her from Cupid’s arrows if they should land amiss?

Rita is assigned to the New York City Transit Police Squad and gets more than she bargained for. Riding the Lexington Avenue Subway Line, Rita winds up meeting not one man in uniform, but many. Whom will she love?

In Transit is a woman-in-jeopardy story, a post 9-11 novel, that delves into the ordinary lives of NYPD career cops and how their fates are often determined by people who hold secrets as dark and as labyrinth-like as the New York City Subway System.

My Review

"Nana always used to say a girl needs to spend all four seasons with a man before she says I do." Smart advice from the mom of Rita Del Vecchio. If only she listened to it. Award-winning author, Kathleen Gerard, offers her readers this dire warning in her gritty, yet romantic, cop thriller, In Transit: A Novel: look beyond the surface, don't settle for appearances. Getting swept off your feet (like her main character) can be dangerous.

At the beginning, Rita is an idealist. Call her naive, she's a hopeless romantic. Sick of waitressing at a diner in Jersey, she puts undue emphasis on an impromptu psychic reading that her destiny lies with a man in uniform. Hearing that the NYPD is seeking new recruits, she struggles through the boot camp conditions of officer training with a bulldog of an instructor, Sergeant Gary Hill. She makes it all the way to graduation only to lock eyes with crooked cop, Billy Quinn.

Gerard knows how to paint a picture of working the beat of an inner city cop. When assigned the subways to patrol, Rita falls into a steady routine of riding the rails and talking about the Yankees with her sweetheart of a partner, Franko O'Malley. They are like two peas in a pod until Billy makes a grandiose play for Rita's affections.

The novel operates around two simultaneous story lines. The majority of events are told through Rita's point of view, but there's also a concurrent thread depicting Billy's secret life. Gerard weaves the plot into a seamless whole, and a sense of foreboding builds as Rita unknowingly becomes more entangled in Billy's web of lies.

The characterization shines in the ethnic divide between the Italians and the Irish. Rita's mom is the classic example of an Italian matriarch. She's a pasta-cooking force of nature. She senses Billy is a no good Irishman when he shows up late, drinks more than he should and offers her daughter a hand-me-down wedding band. Her instincts are right on the money, but her high-handed way of expressing her concerns to her daughter go unheeded. As Rita responds, "No, you're passing judgment. That's what you're doing. No one is ever going to be good enough for me. Are they, Ma?"

In a brutal scene, Billy's true nature is finally revealed to Rita when he drags her into the woods during their wedding reception. The threat of violence shocks the reader into grasping the full measure of Billy's depravity. He progressively worsens through the second half of the novel, but this tipping point is graphic in nature serving to fully illustrate the ever-changing nature of their relationship. Jealousy. Possessiveness. Paranoia. Alcoholism. Drug addiction. All of Billy's demons are revealed one by one.

The supporting cast is also restructured as Billy begins to drive the narrative. One character is murdered. Another becomes a pillar of support for Rita as a new - and unexpected - love interest. While another comes out of the closet and reveals his homosexuality to Rita. All of these narrative twists are handled with care and grace as Gerard infuses her secondary characters with as much complexity and level of detail that she bestows upon Rita and Billy.

For a woman tough enough to choose employment as a post 9-11 cop, Rita is someone who never expected to become a victim in her own home. Her inner strength slowly re-emerges, even after she is dealt some crippling set-backs. Gerard creates a female protagonist who is easy to root for. Rita's choices at times may be questionable, but her resolve to make the most out of life never wavers. In Transit: A Novel may revolve around cops, but it is centered around the workings of a woman's heart.


Excerpt

It was a blood bath at Grand Central. By the time Franko and Rita arrived on the scene, commuters were scrambling, trying to get away from the pandemonium. The victim was flat on his back, face up and unconscious on the cold tile platform. It was obvious that life was quickly draining from him. The tails of his tie were flung back over his shoulder, and the lapels of his suit jacket were parted like a curtain that revealed a bull’s-eye of blood right at the center of his starched white business shirt. Papers that had spilled from a leather briefcase were strewn around the lifeless-looking body and sopping up the growing pool of blood.

“Freeze! Freeze!” came the shouts of Rita and Franko, who raised their weapons in order to corner three Latino men wearing leather jackets and holding switchblade knives.

“Drop your weapons. Now!” The commanding shrill of Franko’s voice echoed in the terminal. The two men in the rear of the group did as they were told. They threw down their knives. But there was one holdout—the pack leader, the guy heading up the trio. He waved a bloody knife in front of him, itching for a fight.

A spike of fear rose up in Franko. He stared into the man’s face. The image of those wild eyes, his thick nose and taut lips seared into Franko’s brain as he firmed his grip on his weapon, tight and damp, and ordered, “C’mon, man. I said drop it. Drop your weapon and put up your hands.”

“But I ain’t done nothing,” the pack leader said. He had a well-defined V-shape to his body that made him appear the most muscular-looking of the three. He kept his feet firmly planted. He didn’t blink. Perspiration was raining down from beneath the fringe of his black hair.

“Don’t be stupid,” one of the other men said, his voice rising from behind the group. “Just give ’em what they want. It’s over.”

The pack leader yelled something incoherent in Spanish that sounded like a bark.

Every muscle in Franko’s body was tense, but he could feel his hand, his fingers wrapped around the gun, beginning to quake. Locked in this standoff, Franko couldn’t see a way out of this, but he tightened his bicep so that his arm might feel stronger.

You’re the one in control here, spouted Franko’s internal dialogue. Keep your hand steady and your mind even. Finger on the trigger. Be cool. You’ve got this guy.

With his piece still aimed on the defiant pack leader, Franko took a step closer and said, “Get against the wall.” Franko could feel his adrenaline rushing, even through his eyes. “I said, put your hands up and drop your weapon.”

The two men in the rear backed up toward the wall of the terminal. But brazenly, the pack leader stood his ground. He brandished the knife in front of him like a shield, ready for Franko’s attack.

Franko kept his aim on the leader and again moved closer. One step… Then another. The perpetrator moved from side to side. He wouldn’t back down. Rita, creeping alongside Franko, kept her own weapon drawn and followed Franko’s lead. But as Franko took his fourth step toward the perp, Rita’s and Franko’s police radios hissed and crackled with static. The sound must’ve jarred the man with the outstretched knife. He lunged for Franko.

Pop!

A bullet, a single shot, released from the chamber of Franko’s gun. It echoed like the roar of a cannon. The assailant collapsed onto the platform. Franko had lodged a bullet in the man’s leg.

The perpetrator looked stunned, and so was Franko. His arm was outstretched, and he kept the gun pointed straightaway. For a terrifying instant, a light, gauzy feeling filled Franko’s head. Everything in the cold, desolate terminal looked and sounded muted, except for the bloodied knife-edge. The shiny part of the blade glimmered on the ground next to the perpetrator, and Franko saw it as clear as if he were holding it in his own hand.

“Franko, you all right?” Rita asked.

He couldn’t speak. Have I imagined this? Have I really just shot a man? Franko could feel his face flush. He felt as though he’d just showered with his clothes on.

When the back-up team arrived, along with paramedics, the adrenaline of the scene finally began to drain from Franko. And on he went, business as usual.

The injured businessman, who’d been lying unconscious, was quickly put on a stretcher and rushed out of the terminal. After the victim’s wallet was recovered from the pack leader, Rita and Franko discovered there was only one hundred dollars inside.

The two other assailants were handcuffed. They were read their rights and whisked away. As the wounded aggressor was being carted off on a stretcher, the medical crew worked hard to restrain him. But what they couldn’t restrain were his words.

“I’ll be back to get you, you fat pig,” he wailed.

“Aw, I bet you say that to all your arresting officers,” Franko chimed, trying to act nonchalant while a sick feeling shivered through him.

Through the barrage of paramedics and police, the aggressor defiantly craned his neck. When he found Franko through the crowd, he raised his hand in a gesture of an imaginary gun.

“Bang, bang,” he said, taking aim and firing a make-believe shot in the direction of Franko’s head.

When Franko turned away, his gaze landed on Rita. He saw his own horror reflected in her pale face.


***

In Transit: A Novel buy links:

Hardcover (U.S.):
Amazon U.S.
Barnes and Noble

Hardcover International:
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

eBook:
Kindle
Nook
Untreed Reads

Price: $4.99 ebook, $25.95 hardcover
Pages: 246 ebook, 284 hardcover
ISBN: 9781594149665
ASIN: B009RR815S
Hardcover Publisher: Five Star (Gale-Cengage-Thorndike Press)
eBook Publisher: Untreed Reads
Hardcover Release: May 2011
eBook Release: October 2012


About the Author

Kathleen Gerard writes across genres. Her fiction has been awarded The Perillo Prize, The Eric Hoffer Prose Award and was nominated for Best New American Voices, all national prizes in literature. Her prose and poetry have been widely published in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). Several of her plays have been staged and performed regionally and off-Broadway.

Links to connect with Kathleen:
Web site
Blog
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


About the Giveaway

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3 comments:

  1. I really encourage everyone to check out Kathleen's book. It's a great read!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your thoughtful, carefully considered review of IN TRANSIT and for hosting more about the novel on your blog! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're more than welcome, Kathleen. You are a class act. Thanks for stopping by!

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