Books by Michael Raleigh

THE BLUE MOON CIRCUS by Michael Raleigh
Released: April 1, 2003

"Beguiling, wise, and wonderful."
Bottom-tier circus enchants the big, empty West in the last days before mass entertainment. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

"An engrossing tale that—even if it does seem to capture the entire Irish-American experience from the family nun a bit too neatly—is filled with fine writing and compassion."
In a nice change of pace for whodunit writer Raleigh (The Riverview Murders, 1997, etc.), here's a warm and wise view of Irish Chicago—as seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old orphan being raised by his boisterous, hard-drinking kin. Read full book review >
Released: July 11, 1997

Ordinarily you'd ask the police to help find your missing brother, but when he's been missing for 30 years, the police aren't interested. So Margaret O'Mara, piqued by an obituary for Michael Minogue, her brother Joseph Colleran's former partner, hires specialist Paul Whelan to find Colleran. Whelan, left even more depressed than usual by the absence of his girlfriend Sandra McAuliffe, makes the rounds of the old gang Colleran shared with Minogue, and predictably finds that even the ones who weren't killed in WW II have been dropping like flies—especially once news of Whelan's involvement gets out. Interesting people and authentically seedy atmosphere make up for the low-grade puzzle. But when is Whelan (Killer on Argyle Street, 1995, etc.) ever going to get out of his gang-of-guilty- secrets rut? Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 11, 1995

How does Chicago shamus Paul Whelan survive on all that pro bono work? This time he's getting only $500two days' payfrom Evangeline Pritchett to find Tony Blanchard, the white street kid who used to live with her. And he's going to earn every penny of his tiny fee, because Tony's not easy to findnobody who ever knew him is saying anything about where he isand because Tony's friends have been dying young. Whelan's surprised to discover that one of those dead pals is the brother of his sorely missed old friend Mickey Byrne, but he's astonished to see Mickey walking the Uptown streets as if he weren't even dead. Has Tony been cut down by the same grim reaper who took his buddies and left Mickey in return? What's become of the group's leader, the missing Jimmy Lee Hayes? And can Whelan, who's already shamefully neglecting his put-upon social-worker lover Sandy McAuliffe, follow the trail to Tony before the last of his leads is history? Despite the monumental body count, the prevailing tone of Whelan's fourth tour of Chicago's darkest side (The Maxwell Street Blues, 1994, etc.) is sadness. Whelan, who must be the most sensitive p.i. in the business, needs a good therapistor a month in Tahiti. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 1994

It's been years since anybody's seen Samuel Burwell around Chicago's scruffy West Side; but some anonymous client of well- tailored black lawyer David Hill thinks the old street vendor is back on his old turf again, and Hill hires PI Paul Whelan (The Body in Belmont Harbor, 1993, etc.) to find him. Whelan shows a 20-year- old photo around Maxwell Street and asks the same questions dozens of times, but he can't find Burwell, because Burwell's dead, shot and shoved under one of the West Side's legendary elevated sidewalks. And when Whelan, who can't take a case the police are actively investigating, agrees to dig up some information about Burwell's life for his old partner, O.C. Brown—``Lemme see if I got it right,'' his cop buddy Albert Bauman jeers: ``You're not investigating this guy's murder; you're investigating his life''- -other people he's been talking to about Burwell's 30-year-old secrets start dying too. Under Raleigh's searching lens, the ``back-alley Brigadoon'' of Maxwell Street teems with unwholesome life—each sandwich has its own distinctive smell—but this time the atmosphere swallows up the characters, who have about as much individuality as bacteria, and the plot as well. When you stand back from the story, all you see is a decent man banging his head repeatedly against a stone wall until it finally cracks. Read full book review >
Released: March 22, 1993

Convinced that the killing of hoodlum wannabe Harry Palm on Chicago's waterfront is somehow connected to her husband's apparent suicide in the harbor two years earlier, wealthy, brittle Janice Fairs hires self-doubting ex-cop Paul Whelan (Death in Uptown, 1990) to take another look at the financial fortunes of High Pair, the software company that Phil Fairs had run together with slick Rich Vosic—whom Janice accuses of her husband's murder—until embezzling accountant George Brister took off, leaving the partners holding the bag. En route to a neat solution, Whelan finds time to protect a hooker from a conventioneering pharmacist, break up a cross-burning on his neighbor's lawn, mix it up in a bar brawl with his loose-cannon police buddy Al Bauman, make cautious time with a smiling waitress, and get under Vosic's skin but good. A shaggy, satisfying valentine to Chicago's seedy uptown. Read full book review >
DEATH IN UPTOWN by Michael Raleigh
Released: Aug. 26, 1991

Murder and other, slower, forms of death and decay on Chicago's skid row, as marginal p.i. Paul Whelan prowls among the winos and street preachers looking for the man who killed his even more marginal friend Artie Shears, who'd been interviewing derelicts for a book he hoped would turn his life around. When Whelan lands another client- -small-town ingÇnue Jean Agee, searching for her wayward kid brother Jerry—it's clear that the cases are connected, but how? Does Jerry know the mysterious Sharkey (a street person with a bodyguard, no less) whom Artie was excited about talking to, or is he another victim, or the killer himself? Whelan's persistent intimations of mortality amid the mounting body count (eventually including both the bodyguard and Sharkey) hint that things won't go well for him, and they don't; but the novel's depressive charge is offset by rare qualities of perception and pity. Newcomer Raleigh seems to have gotten so deeply inside his hero and his seamy world that there may be nothing left for a sequel. But it would be great to be wrong about that. Read full book review >