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Big City, Bad Blood    by Sean Chercover order for
Big City, Bad Blood
by Sean Chercover
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

In the tradition of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, Ray Dudgeon breaks into the crime scene with trumpets blaring. Once on the newspaper crime beat, Dudgeon was disillusioned by corruption and broke out of the mold of hard-hitting reporter to become an old-time PI. Except for the modern conveniences of computer, fax machine, cell phone, and answering machine, his office approximates something that Humphrey Bogart or George Raft might have walked into, as PI or big-time criminal.

Ray's work usually involves protection services for important - at least in their own eyes - businessmen, or trailing adulterous wives or husbands. Now he's contracted to safeguard a movie executive from the Outfit (spell that Mafia) in Chicago the man is a key witness in a trial that would put a crime boss in jail for many years. As Ray delves deeper into what's involved in protecting this man, he falls into more information than he really needed or wanted. But what to now do with that knowledge?

Big City, Bad Blood is hard-hitting and fast-paced with a plot that would raise eyebrows anywhere. Corruption oozes from every page and violence is no stranger. Chercover's depiction of Dudgeon's brief stay in Hollywood shows Tinseltown as a land all of its own that brooks no interference from mere mortals. His portrayal of Chicago's lower echelon is terrifying to say the least. What seems like such a welcoming town has very disturbing undercurrents.

The corruption that riddles the flesh of this dynamic read is hard to countenance. Yet, I am not nave, and realize it does exist - I only hope not in the scope that Dudgeon uncovers. What a treasure of a first book, is Big City, Bad Blood - and I hope there will be more to come.

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