Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Read a Few Days Ago: "Trigger City" by Sean Chercover

Read a Few Days Ago: Trigger City by Sean Chercover, 2008, 9780061128691.

This was well written and an improvement over Big City, Bad Blood. Nice descriptions of different, little things that brought out more of the characters and setting.

Ray Dudgeon is still a private investigator in Chicago. Dudgeon's shoulder is in constant pain from a violent episode in the last book and he has a part-time employee shadowing Dudgeon's old girlfriend's new boyfriend. Dudgeon gets hired by a grieving father whose 44-year-old daughter was murdered by a former co-worker. The father never knew the daughter very well and says he wants Dudgeon to find out more about her personal life and personality. Kind of like having Dudgeon perform a biographical/background check.

Dudgeon starts to investigate and finds a previous connection between the daughter and her killer. That connection leads to the Hawk River security firm where both used to work. Hawk River is a thinly veiled Blackwater with contracts in Iraq and elsewhere around the world. [I wonder if Blackwater - although they have changed their name - would know anything about this novel if Chercover wanted to sign up for a firearms class at their Northern Illinois facility.] The daughter's killer was fired by Hawk River and Dudgeon thinks the killer may have found some incriminating evidence of Hawk River doing something bad. He did.

Dudgeon continues to investigate. Dudgeon pines for his former girlfriend. Dudgeon receives veiled threats followed by direct threats. Dudgeon's reporter pal, Terry, helps him out. Dudgeon dramatically defends himself in public and kills an attacker. Dudgeon protects the widow of the guy who killed the daughter. The grieving father is more than he appears. Dudgeon and former girlfriend have sex. (With more graphic description than most mystery thrillers I have read. Not that there is anything wrong with that.) Dudgeon continues to pack heat (a ParaOrdnance model of some sort). Dudgeon drinks a lot. Dudgeon pops Percocet pain pills. Dudgeon gives tours of downtown Chicago and a few bars. Dudgeon works his Chicago police and FBI contacts. Alls well that ends well.

Thoughts and comments:
1. Traditional P.I. action: Packing heat and a few beatings. A single guy with his own agency and money trouble. Drinking too much. Cop and newspaper contacts providing information. Working by his own code to help the grieving widow of the killing co-worker.
2. I went to ALA Annual in Chicago in 1995 and went to some bar near the river. It was some joint popular with twenty-somethings that specialized in different frozen drinks from maragarita machines. The place was packed with customers four people deep at the bar and just two bartenders working in slow motion. A third worker was moping back and forth from the bar area to a back room and ignoring the customers. What a fucking joke that place was. They could have been making barrels of cash that night but I and several others left without paying a cent because we never got service.
3. Dudgeon stays at the dead woman's apartment and sleeps in her bed. How weird is that? Not as weird as when he takes his old girlfriend there and porks her in the same bed.
4. Chercover starts the story out pretty tight with Dudgeon pining for his gal and taking on a new case. Then things start to spread out: overcharging by Hawk River, espionage with China by Hawk River, contractors hired for "black ops" by the DOD and other acronyms, Tienanman Square and its fallout, conspiracy by nebulous government agencies who pressure the CPD, FBI, and local paper. Things got too stretched out for me.
5. Chercover is schedule to be at Muskego this Saturday. I don't really have anything to say to him if I run into him. I suppose I could say, "Good morning."
6. I would like to see more of Dudgeon's part-time worker and friend.

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