Chicago Blues

Chicago Blues

5.0 1
by Libby Fischer Hellman, Sara Paretsky, Max Allan Collins, Stuart M. Kaminsky
Dark collection of crime stories from Chicago.


Dark collection of crime stories from Chicago.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This classy anthology of mostly original short stories from 21 renowned Windy City authors blends the blues, crime and Chicago, quite surpassing Akashic's recent Chicago Noir. Several series heroes make appearances, including Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, Kris Nelscott's Smokey Dalton and J.A. Konrath's Jack Daniels. Stuart M. Kaminsky takes a different tack with "Blue Note," a fine story of a poker game where the real stakes are a mother's fingers. Two authors with acclaimed recent debut novels, Jack Fredrickson (A Safe Place for Dying) and Marcus Sakey (The Blade Itself), demonstrate equal talent in short form. Best of all are Michael Allen Dymoch's "A Shade of Blue" in which a man claims to have witnessed a murder that took place 30 years earlier; D.C. Brod's "My Heroes Have Always Been Shortstops," which measures the depths of a Cubs fan's devotion; and Barb D'Amato's "The Lower Wacker Hilton," about the death of a homeless man in Chicago's underworld. This impressive volume has soul, grit and plenty of high notes. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Blues can evoke music, mood, and more, and the 21 stories in Chicago Bluesdisplay the work of some of Chicago's finest mystery writers. Most haunting are those that celebrate the blues as music, including Stuart Kaminsky's "Blue Note," in which a man plays high-stakes poker to prevent the maiming of his blues-singing mother. Longtime series protagonists are featured in tales from Sara Paretsky, Kris Nelscott, J.A. Konrath, and Max Allan Collins, while entries by Barbara D'Amato, David J. Walker, and Michael Allen Dymmoch star cops who may be crooked but are loyal to their own. Superior to Chicago Noir(Akashic, 2005), this should be of interest beyond the Second City area.

Motor City, Motown, Murder City: Detroit's varied faces are revealed in Detroit Noir's 16 stories by natives and/or city residents. A PI looking for a missing teen discovers-and solves-a multiple murder in Loren Estleman's "Kill the Cat." In "Pride" by P.J. Parrish (actually sisters Kris Montee and Kelly Nichols), a female police detective finds her own justice. A man driving his family behind a school bus in Joyce Carol Oates's "Panic" learns that potential violence can be life-changing as well. As these tales reveal, there is murder in even the best neighborhoods. But one of the most memorable entries-"Hey Love" by Detroit middle school teacher Roger K. Johnson-celebrates the Motown label.

Credit Cuban-born Obejas (Days of Awe) with Havana Noir; she edited and introduced it, translated 12 of the 18 stories, and wrote the longest one, about an American "pet foreigner" in Havana who threatens to interfere in a local family's affairs. The cumulative work of these writers(half living in Cuba, most of the others born there) describes a country of (mostly) have-nots, struggling with the rationing imposed after the revolution and doing what they must to survive, usually outside the law. Most poignant are "The Dinner" by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, with its O. Henry-like twist, and "The Scene" by Mylene Fernandez Pintado, featuring a woman caring for her dying mother; most chilling are Mariela Varona Roque's stylish "The Orchid," about a child murderer, and Ena Lucia Portela's "The Last Passenger," describing an anonymous woman's relationship with a serial killer. Noir at its darkest.

—Michele Leber
Kirkus Reviews
Twenty-one excellent reasons to stay out of the Windy City. It's amazing how many things can go wrong in Chicago, whether you buy into Stuart Kaminsky's high-stakes poker game or head out to Wrigley Field with D.C. Brod. David J. Walker's cops are as crooked as his crooks, and the open mike at Jack Fredrickson's bar turns out to be devilish. Even series regulars have the blues. J.A. Konrath pits Lt. Jack Daniels against a bomber who's beyond suicidal; Kris Nelscott's first short case for Smokey Dalton requires him to be as sensitive and brave as her novels; Michael Allen Dymmoch serves up an ice-cold case for Det. John Thinnes. Most of the 17 new stories are more notable for their deep-blue mood than for their plot, but Sam Reaves's Mob anecdote has enough double crosses for a TV series, and Mary V. Welk's ER nurse is memorably chilling. Of the four reprints, Barbara D'Amato's "The Lower Wacker Hilton" and Sara Paretsky's "Publicity Stunts" deserve another look, and Marcus Sakey's "No One" is worth reading for its arctic final word. Other contributors include Kevin Guilfoile, Sean Chercover, Max Allan Collins, Michael Black, Steve Mandel, Sam Hill, Ron Levitsky, Brian Pinkerton and editor Hellmann, none of them in a good mood. In the superfluous headnotes, the authors, all with close ties to the city, agree that Chicago is bold, reeking and real-a gift to mystery writers-and every single one of them is right.

Product Details

Big Earth Publishing
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)

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Chicago Blues 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chicago, like most large cities anywhere in the world, is really two cities It exists in different times and sometimes in different universes even while the two Chicagos occupy the same real estate. Daytimes the people of the upper world are there, crowds of shoppers, traffic, wheelers and dealers, the thousands or millions who go busily about their daily lives in the hard sunlight, visible by almost everybody. Then there¿s the other city, the one you may encounter at night after the sun departs along with the suited workers. This city is a little less crowded, except in the sometimes stifling bars or underground caverns. In this city you¿ll meet good cops trying to control the violence, and you may brush up against the others, those acquiring their reputations as bad and dangerous boys and girls. In the nighttime you can meet the scufflers, the dealers, the thugs and the killers. There are other players in Chicago. They are the makers of music, of art, of story. And while they intersect with the rest of the night crawlers, it¿s often the horn players in the bars and night clubs who lend texture and rhythm to the boozy, bluesy night, that night thick with desire and trepidation, with humidity and icy winds. This city is sometimes violent where the sun never filters in, where the dark denizens shun the scrutiny of the day. The urban canyons of Chicago are often dark enough all day long to sustain the underlife, and the river runs the wrong direction. Intermingled with the busy daytime traders and the nighttime scufflers are the watchers, the storytellers who observe and remember and write it all down. They often go down the dangerous streets and trash-strewn alleys so you don¿t have to. You can read all about it and experience at a safe distance that frisson of danger without really getting dirty. If that¿s you thing, this is a book for you. If you want to have an up-close experience of the down and dirty blues of Chicago, this is a book you really want to read. Here, collected by astute and talented storytellers who drift through this urban scene, observing, recording, writing it down are some of the best. Twenty one stories collected and shaped in a single volume aptly named ¿Chicago Blues.¿ Dark stories of dark deeds, crisply written, sometimes enlightening, mostly relating tales of unregenerate and occasionally ordinary crime and criminals. Here is the corrupt politician, the vengeful ER nurse, here is history and flashback, here is skin-crawling realism. Life and death in the big city. I have a tenuous connection with Chicago of an earlier time, of Count Basie and the old Blue Note, of North Clark Street. I have connections with several of the authors represented in this excellent anthology. That said, if you are looking for the true blue essence of the canyons of urban Chicago noir, if you want a sample of the gritty, sticky pavement of crime, of individuals pushed beyond their limits, of the grasping, panting, unredemptive jazz of big city noir, here¿s a collection that takes hold and grasps and satisfies until the final curtain. This one is a winner, a keeper. This is the blues.