Chicago Blues

Chicago Blues

by Libby Fischer Hellmann
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:
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Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.70(d)

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