One special relationship initiates Chicago detective Ray Sharkey's decline into compromise and self-destruction. Campbell, author of The Junkyard Dog (Signet, 1986) and Juice ( LJ 4/1/89), portrays the man behind the facade.
Ex-cop Ray Sharkey has just been released from prison, where he was sent for killing the murderers of Roma Chounard, a black hooker and Sharkey's lover. Back in Chicago for the funeral of his sister, Sharkey turns his thoughts to the past and to the curious chain of events that led to his imprisonment. Mostly, he was a cop gone bad, corrupted by the system and by circumstances, but he was also father, husband, brother, son, and lover, molded by his Irish Catholic upbringing and a master at using "Irish honey-cake" (sweet talk) to get his way. The pieces of his life that Sharkey remembers--his investigation of the brutal murder of a jewel smuggler; the shady financial deals that help pay for his dying wife's medical bills and his daughter's care in a mental institution; his love affair with Roma; his fierce relationships with his family; the events that turned him into an angry and vengeful killer--reveal a man caught by chance and sometimes by choice in a lonely, inescapable net. Filled with grim realism and brutal violence, Campbell's novel takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride into a dark and frightening world. Impossible to put down, the book is shocking, provocative, raw, and powerful, yet in the end, the reader is left with feelings of sad tenderness for this tough, corrupt, misguided cop. Highly recommended for all collections.