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

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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 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.

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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.

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