Disillusioned newspaper reporter-turned-private detective Ray Dudgeon doesn't want to save the world; he just wants to do an honest job well. But when doing an honest job threatens society's most powerful and corrupt, Ray's odds of survival make for a sucker's bet.A simple bodyguard job for a Hollywood locations manager uncovers a rat's nest of sexual blackmail, murder, and high-level political corruption...and Ray Dudgeon is caught in a war between the FBI, the Chicago police, and the mob. With the line between good and bad blurring, Ray doesn't know who he can trust - or if he can even trust himself.More
Corrupt cops. Menacing mobsters. Shady politicians. Sleazy Hollywood moguls. And as the bodies pile up, one detective manages to stay alive and stay one step ahead of them all: private investigator Ray Dudgeon, a former crusading newspaper reporter transformed into a tough-nosed gumshoe. And except for slight, entertaining detours to Washington, D.C., and a Los Angeles where Raymond Chandler would feel right at home, most of the action in Big City, Bad Blood unfolds on the gritty streets of Chicago.
But you only really get the true flavor of the Windy City when you listen to Joe Barrett perform Sean Chercover’s gripping novel. Barrett has one of those world-weary, seen-it-all Chicago voices that adds to the mystery’s drama. That probably explains why Barrett has been hired to do brilliant readings of other well-known books, including Saul Bellow’s bizarre masterpiece Henderson the Rain King and John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. Barrett has an authoritative, deep voice that gives credibility to every word he reads. We trust Ray Dudgeon because we believe everything Barrett says. And luckily for Ray Dudgeon, most of the other characters trust and believe him, too.
Dudgeon’s dogged pursuit of the truth and his samurai-like code of honor help keep him alive as he tries to unravel why someone wants to kill Bob Loniski, a Hollywood locations manager assigned for Continental Pictures’ production of Final Revenge in Chicago. At first, the mystery seems simple enough. But anyone who loves detective fiction or movies knows there will be many twists and turns as Dudgeon follows the trail leading him to the answers for his questions.
And like many great novelists, Chercover gets all the little details just right. Some of his descriptions are so spot-on, you could easily mistake the book for being a well-written social critique of American society. But this is no dry academic thesis paper. Chercover fills Big City, Bad Blood with dozens of fascinating minor characters that could be the stars of their own books: the handful of good cops and not-so-bad Mafia men Dudgeon gets a lot of his tips from, the Hollywood starlet Dudgeon befriends, a fast-talking cab driver and a gravedigger everyone needs in their corner. But like a good detective or newspaper reporter, Chercover keeps his focus relentlessly on the main plot line. That’s what ultimately gives this hard-boiled thriller its power and keeps you riveted as you listen to Barrett tell this entertaining, expertly crafted tale. Ken Ross
Gumshoe Award, Best First Novel, 2008
Shamus Award, Best First P.I. Novel, 2008
"The author's considerable storytelling and characterization gifts compare favorably with those of Loren D. Estleman and other established masters of the crime genre." (Publishers Weekly)
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- Eva Gannon
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