Books by Hugh Holton

Released: Jan. 1, 2009

"Though these fleeting glimpses barely scratch the surface of what work as a peace officer demands, the African-American perspective is bracing."
Stimulating narratives from police officers who have walked the most crime-ridden beats in inner-city America. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

With a midnight bank robbery in progress, Chicago police lieutenant Holton strides forcefully into his eighth Chicago police thriller featuring Chief of Detectives Commander Larry Cole and his sidekick, Lt. Blackie Silvestri (The Left Hand of God, 1999, etc.). The robbery has been planned by the world's greatest bank robber, Julianna Saint, known also as The Devil's Shadow. Her object: to retrieve from a safe-deposit box a pistol and videotape proving that mob boss Big Jake Romano murdered his boss, Mafia don Vic Mattioli. Cole has faced some savage female serial killers, especially the Superwoman fiend of Windy City (1995), but no female criminal matches the smarts of Julianna Saint, who lives to crack safes another day. Flat sentences strike like notched dum-dums but tear holes in the reader's sleep. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

"Better than usual genre fare from an increasingly skilled writer. "
Things are never dull in Holton's Chicago, and in his latest outing, things haven't gotten any simpler for series hero Police Commander Larry Cole (The Devil's Shadow, p. 363, etc.). Ambitious city Alderman Skip Murphy is set up by barely veiled psychotic police detective Joe Donegan to believe he murdered a young woman. When Donegan makes the evidence disappear, including witnesses, Murphy becomes his puppet, and he's soon a puppet with a good shot at a congressional seat. An inventive and satisfying stew of procedural, gangs, vengeance, low-level politicians, oddities, and local color of all sorts: Holton's deft pacing and plotting should satisfy fans and win over a few more. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 15, 1999

Chief of Detectives Larry Cole is a dedicated law-and-order man, but in his Chicago—the year is 2004—keeping the lid on is never a simple matter. And now, suddenly, in his seventh adventure (Red Lightning, 1998, etc.), Chief Cole has a she-devil to contend with. Literally. She goes by the name of Abo-Yorba, "the shape-shifter," and the shape she shifts into is monstrous and lethal. The shape she shifts out of, on the other hand, belongs to "stunningly beautiful" TV reporter Orga Syriac. Actually, this is a monster less to be feared than admired, as Chief Cole discovers. Clued in by African legend, he learns it's only injustice that converts Abo-Yorba into a killing machine. And that's where the noxious Human Development Institute comes in, a group headed by malevolently maniacal Dr. Goldman, who's never so happy as when he's murdering in mass. The why of this homicidal bent is probably best ascribed to innate evil since it's never otherwise explained. Also among the innately evil are Jack Carlisle, master fixer and exploiter; Philo Coffey, villainous politician; and Thomas Kelly, who likes to pretend he's a priest so that he can more readily murder real ones. HDI's mission is to start a war somewhere, preferably one in which the fatality lists will be striking. Abo-Yorba's is to seize and destroy HDI—while overworked, overmatched Chief Cole scurries about desperately seeking a way to keep Chicago his kind of town. Clumsy prose, comic-book characters, the art of storytelling mashed into pulp. (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 12, 1997

Holton must be getting more sleep. His fourth plunges into the murky waters of the Chicago police procedural is his least phantasmagoric, most cinematic book to date. The case begins quietly (though in fact the opening scene is the only quiet moment here) with the discovery of a dead soldier detailed to guard Astrolab Industries' arsenal of high-tech weaponry. Before you can say Rambo, an impressively armored assassin has used Astrolab's latest gear to blow up the Temple of Allah, stronghold of Minister Abdul Ali Malik, a.k.a. fence/pimp Slick Rick Johnson. The assault on Allah's emissary is only the first strike (if you don't count that army guard) in millionaire Steven Zalkin's plan to annihilate everyone who gave him a hard time during his last stretch in the Windy City 15 years ago. Since Zalkin (nÇ Martin Zykus), as Holton reveals in two chunky flashbacks, was a lowly busboy who left Chicago back then wanted for rape and aggravated assault and just having confessed to multiple homicides, that's quite a list of targets. There's Sister Mary Louise Stallings, the saintly rape victim who took holy orders instead of turning Zykus in. There's Commander Larry Cole (Chicago Blues, p. 336, etc.) and Sergeant Blackie Silvestri, the two officers who kept arresting Zykus and were forced to let him go by corrupt and incompetent superiors. There's Frank Delahanty, sozzled Times-Herald columnist who ridiculed Zykus, and who's now using his column to bait Zalkin, not even aware—as nobody else seems to notice either—that Zalkin is really Zykus. (Eerily, Zalkin is arrested once again in his present-day incarnation, and once again released by the dim- witted top brass.) Can Cole and his staunch colleagues take Zalkin as Zykus before Zalkin uses the last of his stolen armaments to reduce the Second District police station to a fine powder? Newcomers to Holton's supercharged procedurals will find this season's relatively sedate installment their best chance of hopping this runaway train. Read full book review >
CHICAGO BLUES by Hugh Holton
Released: April 1, 1996

Before Senator Harvey Banks can convene a blue-ribbon committee that could give Antonio DeLisa some anxious moments, Tuxedo Tony plans to have him taken for a ride. But his first attempt backfires when the senator's bodyguard, FBI agent Reggie Stanton, sends Tony's designated drivers home dead with an attached note: ``The next time this will be you, DeLisa.'' Enraged, Tony imports father-and-son assassins Karl and Ernest Steiger to finish the job. The basic story is as simple as that, except that (1) Tony's traumatized daughter Rachel, frantic to escape from her father, wishes the note would hurry up and come true; (2) Rachel's current minder is really undercover cop Judy Daniels, self-styled Mistress of Disguise/High Priestess of Mayhem; (3) Judy's latest victim, maniacal killer Armand Hagar, is now on Tony's payroll; (4) Stanton, an ex-cop implicated in a couple of eerily similar executions 15 years ago, is willing to go up against anybody—DeLisa's men, the Chicago blues, his Bureau chief—to bring down Tony; and (5) Stanton is no stranger to the Steiger family. Did we mention that Commander Larry Cole (Windy City, 1995) is in on the shenanigans, too, even though he doesn't get to double-cross anybody? Except for an unnecessary detour back to 1979 to show Stanton acquiring his prowess with the ``Whistling Dagger of Death,'' Holton races through his feverish tale like Scheherazade on speed; the result is wildly, powerfully pulpy. Shove over, William Caunitz. Read full book review >
WINDY CITY by Hugh Holton
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

An unhinged pair of serial murderers surface early in Holton's second outing (Presumed Dead, 1994): Chicago's Neil DeWitt and wife Margo, socialite millionaires, who share a well-hidden blood lusthis for nubile young women, hers for black boy children. Sergeant Clarence McKinnis is shot to death by Neil because he interfered with Neil's pursuit of Paige Albritton, an ex-hooker who shared McKinnis's apartment and was soon to marry him. Paige is the prime suspect in the killing, but she's quickly rescued by the intervention of Deputy Chief Larry Cole. He's been alerted to the DeWitts by an indiscreet remark of Margo's, overheard at a fancy reception. There are witnesses who could nail Neil for the murder, but they're disposed of, one by one, even as the toll of dead black children mounts. Neil's attempt at dispatching the last witness ends in his own death, an outcome engineered by Margo, who's getting bored with him. Meanwhile, Deputy Cole forms his own trustworthy team, outside the power plays racking the upper echelons, and, finding parallels in the rising number of homicides to certain works of fictional crime, establishes contact with mystery writers Barbara Zorin and Jamal Garth. In the end, it's their input that saves his own son Butch from a maniacal killer. The author's Superwoman fiend is less than credible, his straight-ahead style unpolished. Still, it's the rare reader who'll put this one down as it hurtlesone chilling event after the nextto its over-the-top finale. Warts and all, a bravura performance. Read full book review >
PRESUMED DEAD by Hugh Holton
Released: July 1, 1994

A macabre thriller about the underbelly of 1997 Chicago that plays with readers' notions of identity and social respectability. In the years since the inception of the National Space and Science Museum, 183 people have vanished from its environs. Missing individuals are always classified ``Missing: Presumed Dead'' in police files. While patrolling the museum at closing time, police officer Edna Gray thinks she sees a ghost. Shortly thereafter, a barfly who tries to pick up Eurydice Vaughn, the museum's stunning curator, disappears. Readers then discover that Eurydice lives beneath the museum with her deformed brother Homer and her evil mother, known only as the Mistress. By day, Eurydice heads the museum expertly; by night, she runs through its deserted halls in black spandex. At a costume party thrown in the museum, Eurydice's designs on Commander Larry Cole (who resembles a man who made love to her when she was very young) are thwarted when Edna, who looks remarkably similar to Eurydice, seduces him instead. Eurydice and Homer receive harsh punishment from the Mistress after the party for having behaved in a disorderly manner without permission. Meanwhile, two local mystery writers begin to question the museum's top officials about Eurydice's personal history. Simultaneously, the city wishes to build an addition to the museum on Seagull Island. Numerous storylines collide when construction starts a flood that drives Eurydice, the Mistress, and Homer into the hands of the police. Readers then learn the true identities of the Mistress and her children. Holton, a police commander, has written an imaginative first novel that sometimes slouches towards cheesiness—or even camp. The characters tend toward the sterotypical—evil mother, strong-willed police commander, ambitious and independent policewoman—but the plot generally carries them. A mixture of a police story, a horror tale, and a romance that only occasionally falls short of its own ambitions. (Author tour) Read full book review >