A wounded Iraq vet finds Chicago almost as treacherous as Baghdad in this latest from prolific noir author Reaves (Homicide 69, 2006, etc.).
Trying to get his life going after duty in Iraq, Tommy McLain heads to Chicago and lines up a couple of odd jobs. At a party, he’s attracted to Lisa DiPietro and they soon begin a passionate affair. So he’s catnip when Lisa tells him she’s being stalked. She has alerted the police, but Tommy thinks they do too little. He decides to go after the stalker and warn him off Lisa. His confrontation with the man, Joe Salerno, veers out of control and, before McLain knows what’s happening, he shoots Salerno dead. Days later, McLain learns he’s landed himself in even bigger trouble. He spots a newspaper story that reports Salerno was the son of mafia boss Rocco Salerno and that another, recent murder may have been Salerno’s revenge against a rival gang. In what smells like a setup, a man confesses to Salerno’s murder. Conscience stricken, McLain comes clean with Salerno Sr. The boss makes an offer McLain can’t refuse: Knock off rival boss Pete Catania and walk free. McLain stalks Catania but can’t kill the man cold. As McLain heads home, the police nab him, ready to charge him with Salerno’s murder. Then the FBI steps in and makes its offer. They’ll let McLain off on Salerno’s murder and give him witness protection and a new identity if he’ll put on a wire, penetrate Catania’s lair and gather incriminating evidence. The job looks like a way out, but then McLain starts to wonder what many readers will wonder early on: Was he unwittingly led into this imbroglio by Lisa? Darting through a trail of quick, surprising reversals, McLain gets his answer.
Reaves’ prose falls somewhere between lean and flat and most of the characters are one-dimensional. But the chase has pull, and feisty, cocky, yet vulnerable McLain looks primed to be a series hero.