Who killed the man found atop a boxcar in a Chicago rail siding? The question hardly has a chance to come up, let alone get answered, in private investigator Dek Elstrom’s seventh case.
As usual, Dek’s between paying gigs, so he eagerly accepts small-time business realtor Herb Sunheim’s offer of $500 to snap some photographs of the murder scene. Even after Dek’s satisfied himself that the corpse reached its final resting place when it was pushed out a window of the abandoned Central State Electric Works building, he can’t help wondering who the dead man was; why an anonymous graffiti artist tagged the place twice—once outside, once inside—to direct attention to the fact that it’s a crime scene; why normally tightfisted Herbie Sunshine was willing to offer serious money, and pay double the amount he offered, for pictures he could easily have downloaded from the internet; and why Herbie isn’t taking his calls. The identification of the victim as ambulance-chasing lawyer Rickey Means raises even more questions for both Dek (Hidden Graves, 2017, etc.) and Detectives Bruno Kopek and Henry Jacks of the Chicago PD. What secrets is Walter Dace, whose firm manages the property for Triple Time Partners, concealing? What secrets was the Central Works building hiding that made it necessary for someone to burn it to the ground? Who can possibly be behind the mounting body count when all the most likely suspects are getting killed? And how much longer does Dek have to live if he persists in an investigation whose cast seems limited to a series of dead losers?
As usual in Fredrickson’s odes to the seamy side of the Windy City, the answers are less gripping than the questions. As for whodunit, that’s the least interesting revelation of all.