Recommended Reads: Chicago is setting for gritty urban noir murder mystery

A Negro and an OFAY, by Danny Gardner

This gritty urban noir book is a loosely fictional account about a real person, Lieutenant William Drury, a person “known for personal bravery” as was said after his death. The story takes place in the early 1950s in Chicago and includes fresh description and detail on the underbelly of life in the city and surroundings.

This author’s mastery of language in both text description and in dialogue is compelling and a real treat to read. The beleaguered protagonist faces systemic corruption and syndicate confrontation. His fight is lined with persistence, street smarts, and a degree of fatalism. The struggle demands attention and unrelenting commitment, and the author artfully crafts the story in a way that infuses the reader with a tangible passion for the fight.

Family and friendship are deep ties for Elliot Caprice, the protagonist in this book. I found these other characters also to be fascinating to read about in their dramatic relationships. I developed some real favorites among them, and I appreciate the strong men and women characters he creates in his writing. And just wait until you read the femme fatale. This author is a very successful and exhilarating genre bender who weaves unexpected elements into this urban noir.

You may know Danny Gardner as a young stand-up comedian (Def Comedy Jam All-Stars vol. 12), and he also enjoys careers as actor, director and screenwriter. He has several published short pieces of non-fiction and noir. He’s a frequent reader at Noir the Bar events nationwide, including in Seattle at the Sorrento Hotel’s Fireside Room. He’s also a regular blogger at 7 Criminal Minds. This is his first novel, and such an impressive start to what hopefully will be a series. He is originally from Chicago and there’s no doubt his deep feeling for his hometown partly inspired the novel. In fact, his dedication of the book is “To Chicago, my love. May your south and west sides rise again.”

Elliot Caprice is a cop on the run after charges that he killed two crooked colleagues. He returns to his hometown to find the family farm in foreclosure and the man who raised him dying in a flophouse. Desperate to raise the needed money, he starts working, thanks to friends. He ends up crossing paths with a powerful family from Chicago’s north shore and a murder. Hired on the side, Elliot investigates with Chicago’s cops and the FBI breathing down his neck, the Mob watchful of his every step, and the wealthy and powerful pushing their own interests. Elliot Caprice is walking a tight wire.

And if you want to hear more from the author, tune into Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Danny Gardner.

– By Wendy Kendall

Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.


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