A Chicago shamus runs afoul of a vindictive petty thug.
Ray Dudgeon, a former reporter for the Chicago Chronicle, narrates his own story, which begins with a visit from a new client. Bob Loniski, a locations manager from Hollywood in town for a film, stumbled into trouble when he rented space from Frank DiMarco, a slick operator who presented himself as an associate of influential mobster Johnny Greico. But DiMarco had no authority to rent the property. Worse, after his scam is exposed, one of the tenants set to testify against him turns up dead. After paying a courtesy call on Greico and learning that DiMarco doesn’t really work for the Outfit (Chicago’s term for the Mafia), Ray agrees to act as Loniski’s bodyguard. Any dreams that this might be an easy assignment are quickly dispelled when he’s ambushed with a warning to stay out of DiMarco’s business. The episode frays the nerves of Ray’s nurse girlfriend Jill, who loves him but wants a normal life. Returning to California with Loniski, Ray has a fling with actress Virginia Lane. Back in Chicago, he’s surprised by DiMarco himself in a parking garage. Ray shoots him dead and sticks his weapon in the corpse’s hand. What he thinks will be the end of his troubles is just the beginning.
Dudgeon’s darkness adds welcome depth and complexity to this hard-boiled debut, a likely series kickoff.