The public relations flacks for the Chicago Police Department are going to just love this one. When private eye Joe Kozmarski dozes off in his parked car while guarding an abandoned South Side construction site on a freeze-your-ass-off November night, the last thing he expects is to wake up in the middle of what looks like a convention of cops (in uniform, no less) loading up vans with rolls of stolen copper wire. I mean, gee, who ya gonna call? Chicago’s finest? They’re already there. It’s one of the best opening scenes I’ve read in years, a real WTF? that drags you right into this pulpy, hardboiled yarn.
If Wiley doesn’t quite keep up the feverish pace throughout, it’s not for lack of trying. Shootouts, betrayals, corruption, violence, narrow escapes, and more betrayals keep things moving and deliciously off-kilter, so that readers—and Joe—are never quite sure where the next hit is coming from. And there are some doozies in store, particularly when Joe, a recovering alcoholic and a disgraced former cop himself, with few friends left on the force or anywhere else, is roped into going undercover to nail the bad boys in blue. Who, it turns out, have some very big and very nasty dreams.
The author, a Shamus Award winner, manages to keep the occasionally high-flying plot grounded with clean, taut prose and an appealing grit that melds perfectly with his beleaguered, Everyman hero. Another solid entry in a series that never fails to get the job done. Just don’t expect Wiley—or Joe—to be awarded the key to the city of Chicago any time soon.