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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)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Eva Gannon on 09-21-09
This is a very "noir" crime novel, as in the likes of Dashiell Hammett. Ray is a deeply flawed, very violent man, with a penchant for introspection. The character is drawn with exquisite detail. So is the city of Chicago in which it takes place.
The plot hums along at a most satisfactory pace. The narrator is superb. My one nit is his mispronunciation of the street name Armitage!
This award-winning novel is a must for all Chicagoans, and for devotees of crime fiction everywhere.
I wonder why Audible hasn't given it more visibility.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful
By P. Minor on 09-28-11
The story was engaging enough that I wanted to keep listening tho it was not too difficult to figure out how it would end. I love the Chicago setting. It seems so many detective stories take place in NYC or LA and I liked this one being closer to home and in a city I knew.
The narrator was terrific except for one thing....his British accent is godawful. The "girlfriend" is supposed to be British but every time her character spoke she sounded exactly like the Geico gecko and I'd start laughing. But she was never a humorous character so the laughing spoiled the mood. And to me it sounded more like a really bad Aussie accent than
British as well. But his other characters were great so I had to try to overlook the absurdity of her accent. But truly.....all I could see was that silly gecko in the commercials.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful