Wednesday, January 27, 2010

TRIGGER CITY - Sean Chercover

FIRST LINE: "Facts are not truth."

Ray Dudgeon has returned to Chicago but is still suffering from physical injuries as well as some mental/emotional trauma. He has a shoulder in need of surgery and can't get through the night without vivid nightmares. The money situation isn't great and he's looking for a buyer for his Shelby. So, when retired Colonel Isaac Richmond offers Ray a job investigating the murder of his daughter, a murder that the Chicago Police have sufficiently closed, he has a difficult time passing up the job.

Joan Richmond was murdered by a colleague, Steven Zhang, who subsequently committed suicide. These facts are not in question. Richmond, however, wants to hire Ray to find the "truth of Joan's death." When Ray begins to investigate the life and death of Joan Richmond, he finds some oddities. And as he agitates those oddities, disturbing elements begin to appear. And suddenly a routine investigation has turned into a shapeless evil Ray can't identify but has to battle, not only for his own safety but the safety of all those around him.

TRIGGER CITY is the second Ray Dudgeon novel from Sean Chercover and it is explosive! The plot of this novel not only kept me engaged but caught me completely off guard on more than one occasion. The twists were exquisitely placed and utterly believable. Plots like TRIGGER CITY'S convince the most stringent "Doubting Thomas" of government conspiracies. The pace of the novel is quick and intense. At times Chercover would let up slightly for the reader to catch his/her breath, but not for long.

Ray Dudgeon takes on a new dimension in TRIGGER CITY, and for me, he truly came alive. Dudgeon is a hard-ass Chicago P.I., but he's also human and his vulnerability was more translucent in this novel. Ray taking on the role of mentor to Vince helps to bring some of that vulnerability to the forefront but so does Ray's relationship to the deceased Joan Richmond.

For the most part TRIGGER CITY is a dark, dramatic novel, but every so often Chercover comes out with a great line. The dry humor catches you off guard and that makes it all the more funny. He also peppers the plot with music references, and I found those songs playing in my head long after I'd stopped reading.

TRIGGER CITY is the epitome of great, modern crime fiction. It has taken its spot in the canon and is required reading in the School of Noir.

One of Chercover's greatest writing strengths, and believe me he has many, is dialogue. Having listened to TRIGGER CITY on audio book, read by Joe Barrett, that gift with dialogue comes through vividly. Never did it sound forced or awkward, just smooth and natural. Barrett's sound, pacing and interpretation were engaging; they brought Chercover's words to life. It is an excellent audio production.

TRIGGER CITY is available from William Morrow in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-06-112869-1), Harper mass market paperback (ISBN: 978-0-06-112870-7) , or from Audible on audio book.


le0pard13 January 27, 2010 at 12:21 PM  

Great review of a great book, Jen. It's one of the best audiobooks, too. Barrett is Ray Dudgeon. Plain and simple. Thanks, Jen.

Pop Culture Nerd January 27, 2010 at 10:27 PM  

Gosh darn it, will you and lp13 stop beating me over the head with this book? It's Chercover this, Chercover that. I'll read it, I'll read it. Sheesh.

Christine January 28, 2010 at 1:13 PM  

Big fan of this book! Thanks, Jen. Sean Chercover is an author both Brian and I have recommended to several people. (So, PCN? I'm sending you a digital thump on the head...READ IT! READ IT! READ IT! OK, so that was 3 thumps; sorry, got carried away. ;-)

Naomi Johnson January 29, 2010 at 11:25 PM  

PCN has not read Sean Chercover's books? I can't believe there is this one author she's behind all the rest of us on. It makes me think she's almost human... Nah! Couldn't be. But in case she is: Thump her again, Christine!

le0pard13 January 30, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

I'd also recommend to PCN to read BIG CITY BAD BLOOD, first. While you can read TRIGGER CITY as a standalone, BCBB leads you up to TC and really establishes Dudgeon as one of the best detective characters in crime fiction. And no, Sean didn't pay me to say that ;-).

Cym Lowell February 3, 2010 at 8:59 PM  

Your review is GREAT but your comments are just as entertaining!

Thanks for linking-

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