Sunday, 3 August 2014

Maxwell Street Blues by Marc Krulewitch

Random House Publishing Group - Alibi

As kids, a lot of us want to grow up to be like our parents or, their exact opposite.  Jules Landau is in the latter category.  He retains a strong memory of coming home from school to discover his prized basketball hoop lying mangled on the driveway. The Feds tore it down just for the heck of it, and then took the house, the cars and his prized Peugeot bike before sending his father off to jail.  With no great respect for law enforcement and even less for the criminals that dominate his family tree, he chooses to go to college to become a PI.  Checking up on the indiscretions of husbands and wives, doing background checks, surveillance and skip traces pays enough for the rent on a neat apartment. It's also enough money to own a 16 year old Honda Civic, buy cat food and keep raspberry sorbet in the freezer.  Jules is Living the life! - then his dad shows up.
Just 10 days out of jail his dad hires Jules to find out who murdered Snooky, an old family friend.  Charles Snook was a gentle man, a CPA and a money launderer for those in need of such services.  He was good at his job and appreciated by many on both sides of the law.  So why then did he end up on top of a pile of construction debris with two bullets in his head? 
When it comes to murder, Jules is the new kid on the block. This is his first murder case and it comes with some tough lessons not taught in PI 101.  He takes enough beatings in this one case to make you wonder why he doesn't change professions.  But he had a great affection for Snooky, so he pursues the case and like any great detective, he follows the money trail.

The trail leads to some very interesting characters, tattoo artists, meth heads, politicos, corrupt academics and cops.  Ultimately, he solves the case and the reader is left with the same feeling I imagine you have after eating a Maxwell Street Polish - full and satisfied.

There are overtones of Philip Marlowe in this tale.  The story is told in the first person and the plot contains the requisite femme fatale, criminals, and murder.  Like any good story it's all in the telling.  The dialogue is smart and snappy and the atmosphere has a big city smoky feel. The city itself is a major character in the story with its history of crime and corruption.  Maxwell Street really does exist in Chicago and I've read that there is a housing construction site right beside a major university, a key element in the plot. 
I look forward to further adventures with Jules in the south side of Chicago, the baddest part of town.

For a short interview with the author visit:

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