GOOD-BYE, CHICAGO by W. R. Burnett


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Someone has done a disservice to the reputation of influential crime-writer Burnett (Little Caesar, The Asphalt Jungle) by publishing this oddly prissy and even-more-oddly amateurish tale of cops and gangsters in 1928 Chicago--which starts off with the discovery of a dead woman in the river. She turns out to be the wife who deserted Sgt. Joe Ricordi some time back, and Joe's paisano Dave Santorelli is the detective in charge of figuring out whether it was accident, suicide, or murder. The reader, however, is quickly informed of the facts: the late Mrs. Ricordi died of a drug overdose while living with petty mobster-pimp Ted Beck, who was inefficient in disposing of the body--so his boss, Mario Fanelli (""M-6""), is considering disposing of Ted. . . especially when Ricordi's old buddy Johnny (a.k.a. ""Dago Al"") tips the cops off about the Ted Beck/Mrs. Ricordi connection. Soon, therefore, doomed Ted is on the lam, pursued by both cops and thugs, while Ricordi broods over his wife's fail into sin. And there's also a fuzzy little subplot about a posh-appearing mob lawyer who has to get out of town before the cops (or some mob shake-ups) cook his goose. The merest sliver of a story--delivered in stilted dialogue and flat, awkward prose which often slips into near-incoherence or addled sermonettes: ""Would Joe have been better off if he had known the truth? That is even more doubtful. No is probably the answer. Some men can't bear to hear the unadorned truth, and Joe had always been a romantic, though he was unaware of it."" Suspense readers--especially admirers of Burnett's earlier work--will want to pretend that this book never happened.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's