Friday, February 29, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Calumet City by Charlie Newton

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Calumet City by Charlie Newton. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Calumet City by Charlie NewtonBuy from

Calumet City by

Touchstone (Trade paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4165-3322-2 (1416533222)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-3322-1 (9781416233221)
Publication Date: March 2008
List Price: $14.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Meet Patti Black, the most decorated cop in . On her ghetto beat, Patti Black redefines the word badass. But her steel-plated exterior -- solitary, stoic, loveless -- belies the wrenching legacy of her orphan childhood. Haunted by the horrifying abuse she suffered at the hands of her foster parents, Patti Black sublimates past torments into a meticulously maintained tough-gal persona.

When a series of unrelated cases -- a drug bust gone bad, a mayoral assassination attempt, the murder of a state attorney, the exhumation of a long-concealed body from a tenement basement wall -- all point in Patti Black's direction, she finds herself facing the dark truth: You can't hide from your history, no matter how far into the fog you run. For Patti Black, that history didn't die in the tenement wall; it's alive -- and riding her down.

Review: Charlie Newton's debut novel, Calumet City, is a dark, gritty, and suspenseful tale of the cops, and one in particular, that patrol the gangland streets of Chicago.

Patti Black escaped from an appalling, terrifying life in a foster home in Calumet City, a suburb south of Chicago. She faced her demons, buried them, and escaped. She was still a teen-ager. With a lot of help she brought herself up out of the gutter and became a Chicago cop. Though she remained an embittered adult, she showed integrity, honesty and fairness when it was due. But she had a deep, dreadful secret concerning her life in Calumet City, one she thought she would never reveal to any one. On her application to the police academy she purposely omitted or simply lied about certain areas of her life. This seemed to go unnoticed. Now it appears as if her past is going to haunt her. When some factions of the city want a casino in Chicago, and others are determined to fight it, an attempt is made on the mayor’s life. Then a huge drug bust fails, killing one and injuring two. The state attorney is found murdered. And a woman’s body, identified as the foster mother of Patti, is found buried in a wall of an old building. Coincidences? Patti doesn’t think so.

Calumet City is a dark and frequently violent tale of a part of Chicago that the board of tourism doesn't promote. The story, which at times seems more than a little derivative, moves along at a rapid pace due partly to Newton's crisp style of writing but due primarily to the fully developed character of Patti Black. As an interesting side note, Patti Black is based on a real Chicago police officer with whom the author spent time while developing the story for this book. His research pays off with this terrific thriller.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Calumet City and to Simon & Schuster for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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