Title: Trigger City
Author: Sean Chercover
Length: 293 pages
Plot Basics: Chicago PI Ray Dudgeon has returned to active detective work after taking some time off to heal from his run-in with the Outfit. He accepts a case from a grieving father who wants the truth of his daughter's death -- even though the police work on the case appears to be quite open-and-shut. As Ray investigates, he has to come face to face with some events from his past and runs into trouble (of the trying to kill him variety) as he discovers the case isn't at all what it initially seemed.
Banter Points: Chercover followed up his first novel, "Big City, Bad Blood" with a fantastic second novel. What happened to Ray Dudgeon in the first book plays a role with how he reacts to the situations in the second book. Dudgeon is a character that's changing... but it's unclear at this point if he's really changing for the good (which just makes Word Nerd want to read more about him.)
Dudgeon reminds Word Nerd somewhat of both Robert Parker's Spenser and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, in that like Spenser, Dudgeon can be quite ruthless and like Harry Dresden, Dudgeon has a deep-seated personal code of ethics and morals and justice and protecting women in particular that gets him in over his head on cases. These two things provide great internal tension for the character that Chercover brings out well in the book as Ray struggles with knowing his should walk away from the case, yet finding himself compelled by his code to stay.
Additionally, the book is infused with real-world politics and news to give it a sense of immediacy.
Bummer Points: Word Nerd hopes that for Chercover, the fact that the book is riddled with all kinds of current politics doesn't make it have a shorter shelf-life. Obviously, plenty of books in history have been sustained despite the political overtones to them (Wizard of Oz, anyone?), so maybe this isn't a very big issue after all.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Fans of hard-boiled mysteries, if you haven't been introduced to Sean Chercover's PI, why are you waiting?