I love the Chicago boys! Authors Marcus Sakey, Charlie Newton, Michael Harvey, and Sean Chercover have different styles, so although their stories are all set in Chicago, their takes on the city are varied. They all hit the scene about the same time. This year Sakey released his third book, Harvey and Chercover their second. Newton trails the pack with just one release so far.
Sean Chercover's second book, Trigger City, is a follow-up to his tough-talking Big City, Bad Blood. Ray Dudgeon is back as the hard-boiled PI with issues. Ray used to be a reporter, but he's better off on his own with no one to answer to but himself. Keeping his own counsel had serious results in Big City, and Trigger City opens with Ray finally returning to Chicago to recoup his life.
The "trigger" of the title refers to what triggers Ray's anxiety and flashbacks related to his last case, and the triggers are many. He medicates himself with illegal Percocet, beer and vodka, and immersion in hopeless cases.
The current hopeless case involves a middle-aged woman who was killed by a mentally unbalanced co-worker. Her father hires Ray to find out why. Why? The guy was crazy, that's why. But her father insists that Ray investigate and find out the "truth" of his daughter's death. People say they want the truth, but Ray feels they seldom really do want the truth. Ray begrudgingly takes the case because he needs the money.
It seems so open and shut. Crazy guy tracks down co-worker. Kills her. Kills himself. It isn't until Ray talks to the killer's widow that he realizes there may be more to the story. Soon the FBI, a journalist friend, and Ray's assistant are involved in what becomes an increasingly tangled mystery. In the end Ray discovers, as he always suspected, that truth is malleable.
This is one of the most entertaining books I've read in a long time. It's a page-turner with thoughtful pauses. I had assumed by the end of Big City, Bad Blood that we had seen all there was to see about Ray. His life and personality needed work. But Chercover has shown what good writing is all about. In Trigger City, he follows up on the strands of character development and fleshes them out. Another character calls Ray to task for what he sees as Ray's sanctimonious attitude. To Ray's -- and Chercover's -- credit, he examines his motives and cops to his problem. Chercover has wound up creating a character whose heart and hopes are now open for the reader to see.