Big City, Bad Blood (Ray Dudgeon Series #1)

Big City, Bad Blood (Ray Dudgeon Series #1)

4.5 30
by Sean Chercover

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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


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 rats' 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Real-life Chicago PI Chercover, in his impressive hard-boiled debut, introduces Ray Dudgeon, a former Chicago reporter disillusioned with the newspaper business who has turned private detective. When Bob Loniski, a locations manager for Hollywood films, hires Dudgeon for protection after running afoul of a mid-level gangster, Dudgeon finds himself in the middle of an organized crime war. A number of forces hamper Dudgeon's efforts to keep his client alive, even as his probing reveals that Loniski may have witnessed a prominent local politician keeping unsavory company and that the violence may be connected to a broader conspiracy. Like many a classic PI, Dudgeon behaves according to his own subjective code. The author's considerable storytelling and characterization gifts compare favorably with those of Loren D. Estleman and other established masters of the crime genre. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Chicago shamus runs afoul of a vindictive petty thug. Ray Dudgeon, a former reporter for the Chicago Chronicle, narrates his own story, which begins with a visit from a new client. Bob Loniski, a locations manager from Hollywood in town for a film, stumbled into trouble when he rented space from Frank DiMarco, a slick operator who presented himself as an associate of influential mobster Johnny Greico. But DiMarco had no authority to rent the property. Worse, after his scam is exposed, one of the tenants set to testify against him turns up dead. After paying a courtesy call on Greico and learning that DiMarco doesn't really work for the Outfit (Chicago's term for the Mafia), Ray agrees to act as Loniski's bodyguard. Any dreams that this might be an easy assignment are quickly dispelled when he's ambushed with a warning to stay out of DiMarco's business. The episode frays the nerves of Ray's nurse girlfriend Jill, who loves him but wants a normal life. Returning to California with Loniski, Ray has a fling with actress Virginia Lane. Back in Chicago, he's surprised by DiMarco himself in a parking garage. Ray shoots him dead and sticks his weapon in the corpse's hand. What he thinks will be the end of his troubles is just the beginning. Dudgeon's darkness adds welcome depth and complexity to this hard-boiled debut, a likely series kickoff.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Ray Dudgeon Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

Big City, Bad Blood

A Novel
By Sean Chercover

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Sean Chercover
All right reserved.

Chapter One

In the shadows of the John F. Kennedy Expressway, surrounded by warehouses, factories and auto-body shops, stands Villa d'Este, a family-run restaurant that serves generous portions of decidedly untrendy Italian-American food at reasonable prices. The restaurant was there more than thirty years before the expressway slashed the neighborhood in two and I imagine it'll be there long after the Kennedy collapses under the weight of bureaucratic neglect and political corruption. In Chicago, some things never go out of style.

I paced the restaurant's black and white checkerboard marble floor, waiting to ask Johnny Greico if he planned to kill my client. I didn't know how he would take such a question and I decided not to think about it. So I thought about other things.

I was doing my pacing in the Library Room, an ornate lounge they only used at night. Since it was just past noon, the room was closed and I was alone with my thoughts. Thinking, Maybe I should have called ahead for an appointment.

Sal Greico and his $3,000 suit strutted into the room.

"How are you, Ray?" He squeezed my hand harder than he needed to.

"Sal, good to see you."

Sal gestured to a pair of faux-nineteenth-century Florentine chairs. He tugged at the top of his trouser legs as he sat, to keep the razor-crease. Throwing caution to the wind, I neglected mycrease and just sat down.

"Big John is very busy," he said. "What can I do for you?" Big John was Johnny Greico, Sal's uncle, and nobody outside the family called him that.

"I don't mind waiting. I only need a few minutes of his time."

"What's it about?"

"Well it's not about you, Sal. Either I can see him or I can't. But I think he'll be disappointed if you send me away."

We stared at each other for about a week. Finally Sal said, "Everybody gets screened, Dudgeon. That's the protocol."

Protocol is a pretty fancy word for a guy like Sal Greico, but I left it alone. No use being a wiseass.

"Sorry, no disrespect intended. I'll just wait."

Sal stared at me for another week, then stood up and left the room. On his way out, he closed the door harder than he needed to.

I stood and wandered around, just to save what was left of the crease in my pants. The room had no windows and I wondered if the snow had started. There had been little snow this year, which was fine by me. Gus the barber had bemoaned the possibility of not having a white Christmas, now only a week away. Sitting in his chair, I'd made sympathetic noises, but I wasn't looking forward to Christmas and I certainly didn't care what color it was going to be.

I had sent out Christmas cards, not because I was taken by the spirit of the season but simply to remind previous clients that I still existed. One of those cards had gone to Johnny Greico.

Greico was what most people call a Mob Boss. He was probably the fourth-most-powerful organized crime figure in the Chicago Outfit, which made him pretty powerful. It was said that he controlled most of the bookmaking and loan-sharking operations in the Midwest and I had no reason to disbelieve it. The feds had tried for years to make a RICO case against him and had twice gotten indictments, but never a conviction. During the first trial a key witness turned up dead, and during the second, evidence went missing from police custody. Johnny Greico had clout. Johnny Greico was not a man you wanted to screw around with.

So about a year earlier, when I got a message that Mr. Greico wished to have the pleasure of my company, I wasn't about to say no. Sal had picked me up in a dark blue Lincoln Continental driven by a big boy named Vinnie Cosimo. I recognized Vinnie because he had played some college ball. He was a pretty good defensive lineman but they said he lacked the killer instinct and he never figured to go pro. Sal and Vinnie had brought me here, where I met Johnny Greico in a wood-paneled office behind the kitchen.

Greico was worried about electronic surveillance and hired me to sweep the office and the three cars he used regularly, and to check the telephone lines for wiretaps. He never said why he picked me for the job and I never asked. I suspect that he may have thought someone from inside his organization was involved, but that still didn't explain how he came across my name.

As it turned out, there were no bugs to be found. There was a tap on his phone line but it wasn't on the premises; it was located in the JWI terminal. That meant it was a police wiretap and there was nothing he could do about it, except to have his lawyers ensure that a warrant had been properly issued to place the tap.

Greico accepted the news without question and let me sell him $8,000 worth of electronic countersurveillance equipment. Plus three days of my time at $600 a day. I spent one day sweeping for bugs and checking the phone lines. On the second day I tracked the location of the wiretap and installed tap detectors on the phones. And on the third day I trained Vinnie in the proper use of tap detectors and bug-sweeping equipment. Vinnie surprised me by being a lot smarter than I expected and it only took a few hours, but I was charging by the day. In the end, I came out with a decent pile of cash for only a few days' work and I put Johnny Greico on my Christmas card list, not that I ever wanted to work for him again.


Excerpted from Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover Copyright © 2007 by Sean Chercover. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Formerly a private investigator in Chicago and New Orleans, Sean Chercover has since written for film, television, and print. His first novel, Big City, Bad Blood, won and was nominated for numerous awards. He lives in Chicago and Toronto, and the commute is killing him.

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Big City, Bad Blood (Ray Dudgeon Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a well writen smothly told tale of a imperfect man working to make complicated things clearer. Violent at times but plausible, our hero works toward an incrementaly improvement in the world
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this well enough to buy his next book.
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dr77 More than 1 year ago
Great storty very good read!!!!
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wik23 More than 1 year ago
Not a detail is left out in this excellent book. Chercover is fantastic at putting the reader at the place that the story is, whatever city, state, warehouse, tavern, or up-scale night club. Besides his attention to detail, the plot was excellent, the characters were brought to life, and the book is now a favorite of mine. Be careful, if vulgar language offends you--the "f bomb" is thrown around frequently in this book. Otherwise, enjoy reading the one!
Adita More than 1 year ago
It reads more like a screen play that a novel, but that's a part of it's charm. It is a very descriptive work, the author sets out to paint a panoramic scene and succeeds...although sometimes it does feel like a bit too much detail. I remember feeling like I was watching a Dick Tracy movie. Dudgeon has that old school detective feel to him and it's very inviting. I was very surprised at how raw many of the characters were. It is very much like the Sapranos in the way that the low-lives don't hold back on profanity. Because of this, I would be carefull about adding such a book to your general library or giving it as a gift lest you offend someone. The book keeps you on edge - you're always wondering what avenue will it take next. On top of all the action, intrigue and suspense of what's going on with the 'Outfit' there is a romance playing out that makes you feel for Dudgeon. He reveals a very sensitive side with his love interest, friends and the innocents he encounters on the job that makes the character likeable. Seeing his emotional side makes the tough-guy mask he wears most adorable. These traits balance the book between the male and female audiences.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ray Dougian is not your average PI. He is actually someone that is so entwined with the bad guys that he seems to do the same kind of things the bad guys do (murder, break into cars and storage lockers, blackmail, etc.) while claiming that it is all for a good cause. He is hired by a Hollywood type for protection against a mob hit. Thinking the mobster is small change, he roughs up some of his cronies to send a 'message.' Ray doesn't realize how big a deal this is because bodies are turning up everywhere and there seems to be a contract out on Ray as well as his client. The book has some really entertaining moments and sometimes feels like a long episode of The Sopranos. It is very different from the typical thriller in there is a lot less suspense, just things happening with a lot of interesting characters and dialogue. If you can forgive Ray for his sins, you will like the book. If some of the things he does to the bad guys bothers you then try something else. I liked it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Am I the only one who had trouble with the whole premise of this book? While I agree that the author has skills as a writer, right off the bat I had trouble believing the whole premise of some 2nd rate hood murdering all these people because he got into some jam over falsely renting out a vacant building. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but that is a pretty shaky basis, and I had trouble with that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book reads smoothly and is captivating as if written by a seasoned author and is extremely impressive as a debut novel. Sean Chercover¿s experience as a private investigator in the heart of Chicago lends a voice of authenticity to his writing that even someone with the greatest imagination in the world could not conjure up. The style is reminiscent of noir novels when private investigators did not have technological assistance to do their jobs but had to rely on their wits and cunning to stay one step ahead in the detection game. This is a stunning way to begin what is obviously going to be a great series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Moves right along. Probably one of the best, if not the best, PI novels written in the last few years (and I have read most of them). If his next book is as good, then we have a WINNER!.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'd never heard of Sean Chercover - but a bookseller recommended this and I can't believe it is his first novel! The plot moves lightning-fast and there are plenty of surprises and thrills, but also characters with real depth ... the book hooks you emotionally. Chercover used to work as a P.I. in real life and he writes about it convincingly. Ray Dudgeon is a complex hero, and I hope this is the start of a series. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Outstanding!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best debut novels I've read in years, and publishing a mystery magazine means I see a lot of novels cross my desk. Chercover has written one hell of a PI book that reminds me of early Lehane and Crais and geve me the same buzz I got reading early Michael COnnelly novels. Ray Dudgen, Ex Journalist PI is a wonderful character and written with amazing passion. None of the typical cliches and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. We're telling everyone who reads Crimespree Magazine to pick up this terriffic book. Jon Jordan - Editor of Anthony Award Winning Crimespree Magazine
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I don't usually go for PI novels, as they are usually very boring and sadly contrived but I loved this book! It really gave the feeling of Chicago and the corruption that seethes below the gloss of this wonderful city. It was smart, sharp and had great humor. It felt real and living in Chicago I can tell you it felt right. It ended with a hint that there might be more from Dudgeon and Chercover and I really, really hope so and soon please.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding book! I don't usually read detective novels - but this was great. The main character is complex and seems real, and his relationship with his girlfriend covers new ground. It's a dark book, but also funny, with some subtle humour. The story is tense and moves at a fast pace. Once started I had to keep reading. I've been thinking a lot about this book int he few days since I read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Terrific book! Hard hitting true-to-life hero, Ray Dudgeon, is one tough PI. Ray is 'conflicted' and respects the fact that life is not as easy (or virtuous) as he thought it would be when he was young, but, he has not given up trying to make the world a better place. The action is fast and furious with a few twists that take you completely by surprise. Sean Chercover has written a great book in his first outing. I am looking forward to a sequel. Ray Dudgeon is easily right up there with established characters such as Mitch Rapp and Nina Reilly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is locked out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kentaro is locked out.