I believe that it’s important to actively support Chicago’s creative community. My love for the music community is well-documented and about to be even more so with the 2007 release of my book (tentatively titled “Chicago Rocked: An Oral History of Chicago’s Music Scene in the 1990’s”).
Chicago’s fiction authors don’t get chatted up enough in non-literary circles, meaning that a lot of great, interesting, and entertaining work isn’t getting the exposure that it should. “Cast of Shadows” by Kevin Guilfoile, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, and “Hairstyles of the Damned” by Joe Meno are all must-reads from the past few years..
As the Chicago weather continues to improve, finding the right summer reading material is critical. Mystery/thriller writer J.A. Konrath’s “Jack” Daniels books are ready-made for camping out under the sun. I discovered Konrath through an article he’d written for a writing magazine–it was either Writer’s Digest or the Writer–I can’t remember which. The article detailed how he landed a publishing deal for his Lt. “Jack” Daniels books, the first of which being “Whiskey Sour.”
I was excited to learn that he was a local. That, and the fact that “Whiskey Sour” sounded like my kinda book, led me to the bookstore to investigate further.
“Whiskey Sour” is a book of the immensely likeable, whiplash pacing, variety–not unlike James Patterson’s Alex Cross books. Unlike the Patterson books, Konrath invests heavily in his characters. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels is a fallible, very human, Chicago cop who feels sorry for herself and has dating issues. Jack’s surrounded by a cast that threatens to upstage her throughout the book. Most noteworthy is her partner, Herb, a compulsive eater whose snack habit leads him right into a gruesome trap fairly early in the book.
The exchanges between Jack and Herb are very funny, and that’s one of the great strengths of “Whiskey Sour”–the humor. There’s a healthy amount of wit in the book, which is good news, because the “bad guy” is downright chilling. “The Gingerbread Man” is the kind of serial killer who doesn’t merely enjoy killing his victims; he enjoys videotaping their slow, methodical torture. It’s a sexual high for him. And without saying too much, his chosen method of transportation is profoundly disturbing.
Being a Chicagoan, I loved how “Whiskey Sour” played out on the streets of Chicago. Whether it’s a lunch date at the legendary Jimmy Wong’s on Wabash, or hearing about a cop from Palatine, the book felt instantly familiar to me.
Konrath’s new book, the third Jack Daniels novel, “Rusty Nail,” hits shelves next month.