Big City, Bad Blood

Big City, Bad Blood

by Sean Chercover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061128684
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/26/2008
Series: Ray Dudgeon Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 649,641
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.88(d)

About 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.

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.

Customer Reviews

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Big City, Bad Blood (Ray Dudgeon Series #1) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 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.
norinrad10 on LibraryThing 19 hours ago
I'd been eyeing this one for a while. Somehow though all the reviews that referenced Elvis Cole and such left me wanting to avoid the book. Eventually I took the plunge though and don't regret it at all. It's a good debut novel. PI Dudgen is an interesting character and the case involving rival fractions of the "Outfit" is interesting. My one caveat is that frequently the quality of the writing will slip. You are going along, captured in the story and BAM! A passage so wooden that its like you ran into a wall. Fortunately Chercover seems to recover quickly and you are soon lost in the story again. I look forward to watching his writing improve over future episodes.
clif_hiker on LibraryThing 19 hours ago
somewhere in between Elvis Cole and Spencer, Ray Dudgeon fills the hard-boiled PI role for Chicago and the 'Outfit'. I enjoyed the setting and as always I enjoy a "good good guy beats the bad guy at his own game" story. Recommended!
johnbsheridan on LibraryThing 19 hours ago
Went back and retrieved this from my to be read pile after actually reading the second book in the series. As a character I quite like Chercover's PI Ray Dudgeon and the sense of humour portrayed well in the book. It actually introduces the character well and gives just enough of his back story to explain some of his actions though I would say the apparent ease with which he is able to gain access to senators and judges does seem unlikely and their subsequent intervention on his behalf is crucial. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable read and recommended.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing 19 hours ago
A decent little detective/noire/mafia book. Some violence, some suspense, perhaps a bit too much politicizing, but oh well, you can't have everything.Ray Dudgeon is an interesting character. You like him and want him to make out okay, even though you suspect he won't in the long run. Story has a bit of mob history and some anti-government sentiment, and a basic premise that the world is corrupt. If you like that sort of stuff and don't mind a resolution that is just slightly short of miraculous, you'll like this book. It is enjoyable and quick.
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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.