Crime historian Nash's first fiction is the sleuth debut of narrator John Howard Journey, Chicago's top crime columnist (just like J. R. Nash)--a guy with a nicely cynical manner and a slightly excessive predilection for digressions into criminology nostalgia. His case: the son of the governor-elect of Illinois has been found mutilated and stabbed to death in his bed; and the Gov wants legendary Journey to be the sole press representative in this delicate matter (the Gov is convinced that it's a leftwing conspiracy). Savvy readers, however, will immediately suspect that Journey is being set up in some way. And indeed, as soon as he starts doing some amateur sleuthing--his only clue is a sleazy photographer who was snapping pix outside the Gov's house on the fatal night--further bodies surface (the Gov's chauffeur buried in concrete, that photographer in his wetsink), with all of the murders modeled on famous crimes which have been immortalized in Journey's columns! Furthermore, a shadowy hulk with a shotgun is terrorizing and taunting Journey--and the hunt for the crucial photo clue becomes a duel to the death. Eventually, however, Journey does manage to unmask the real murderer and uncover an elaborate cover-up--though neither revelation (despite some effectively grim details and ugly betrayals) will surprise veterans of Ross Macdonald & Co. Only a fair mystery, then, awfully contrived and a trifle slow-paced--but Journey's a strong, wry, unpretentious brand of hardboiled shamus (with a dandy sidekick, a nasty ex-wife, a loyal gal, and a great dog), and we'll hope that this grittily agreeable, Chicago-toned case becomes the first of a John Howard Journey series.