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Big City, Bad Blood | [Sean Chercover]

Big City, Bad Blood

Disillusioned newspaper reporter-turned-private detective Ray Dudgeon doesn't want to save the world; he just wants to do an honest job well. But when doing an honest job threatens society's most powerful and corrupt, Ray's odds of survival make for a sucker's bet.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Corrupt cops. Menacing mobsters. Shady politicians. Sleazy Hollywood moguls. And as the bodies pile up, one detective manages to stay alive and stay one step ahead of them all: private investigator Ray Dudgeon, a former crusading newspaper reporter transformed into a tough-nosed gumshoe. And except for slight, entertaining detours to Washington, D.C., and a Los Angeles where Raymond Chandler would feel right at home, most of the action in Big City, Bad Blood unfolds on the gritty streets of Chicago.

But you only really get the true flavor of the Windy City when you listen to Joe Barrett perform Sean Chercover’s gripping novel. Barrett has one of those world-weary, seen-it-all Chicago voices that adds to the mystery’s drama. That probably explains why Barrett has been hired to do brilliant readings of other well-known books, including Saul Bellow’s bizarre masterpiece Henderson the Rain King and John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. Barrett has an authoritative, deep voice that gives credibility to every word he reads. We trust Ray Dudgeon because we believe everything Barrett says. And luckily for Ray Dudgeon, most of the other characters trust and believe him, too.

Dudgeon’s dogged pursuit of the truth and his samurai-like code of honor help keep him alive as he tries to unravel why someone wants to kill Bob Loniski, a Hollywood locations manager assigned for Continental Pictures’ production of Final Revenge in Chicago. At first, the mystery seems simple enough. But anyone who loves detective fiction or movies knows there will be many twists and turns as Dudgeon follows the trail leading him to the answers for his questions.

And like many great novelists, Chercover gets all the little details just right. Some of his descriptions are so spot-on, you could easily mistake the book for being a well-written social critique of American society. But this is no dry academic thesis paper. Chercover fills Big City, Bad Blood with dozens of fascinating minor characters that could be the stars of their own books: the handful of good cops and not-so-bad Mafia men Dudgeon gets a lot of his tips from, the Hollywood starlet Dudgeon befriends, a fast-talking cab driver and a gravedigger everyone needs in their corner. But like a good detective or newspaper reporter, Chercover keeps his focus relentlessly on the main plot line. That’s what ultimately gives this hard-boiled thriller its power and keeps you riveted as you listen to Barrett tell this entertaining, expertly crafted tale. —Ken Ross

Publisher's Summary

Disillusioned newspaper reporter-turned-private detective Ray Dudgeon doesn't want to save the world; he just wants to do an honest job well. But when doing an honest job threatens society's most powerful and corrupt, Ray's odds of survival make for a sucker's bet.

A simple bodyguard job for a Hollywood locations manager uncovers a rat's nest of sexual blackmail, murder, and high-level political corruption...and Ray Dudgeon is caught in a war between the FBI, the Chicago police, and the mob. With the line between good and bad blurring, Ray doesn't know who he can trust - or if he can even trust himself.

©2007 Sean Chercover; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Gumshoe Award, Best First Novel, 2008
  • Shamus Award, Best First P.I. Novel, 2008

"The author's considerable storytelling and characterization gifts compare favorably with those of Loren D. Estleman and other established masters of the crime genre." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (184 )
5 star
 (51)
4 star
 (61)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.0 (82 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (79 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
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  •  
    Eva Gannon Chicago, Illinois, US 09-21-09
    Eva Gannon Chicago, Illinois, US 09-21-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
    Overall
    "Quintessentially Chicago"

    This is a very "noir" crime novel, as in the likes of Dashiell Hammett. Ray is a deeply flawed, very violent man, with a penchant for introspection. The character is drawn with exquisite detail. So is the city of Chicago in which it takes place.

    The plot hums along at a most satisfactory pace. The narrator is superb. My one nit is his mispronunciation of the street name Armitage!

    This award-winning novel is a must for all Chicagoans, and for devotees of crime fiction everywhere.

    I wonder why Audible hasn't given it more visibility.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Littleton, CO, United States 12-06-11
    Daniel Littleton, CO, United States 12-06-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Please write another novel soon!!"
    What did you love best about Big City, Bad Blood?

    I love the character developement, the title character is great with all his strengths and weaknesses


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was fun


    Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not but will look for him in the future


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherry 02-13-10
    Sherry 02-13-10
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    "Big City"

    Great listen. love the author and the narrator. Full of Chicago color and good characterizations. Will definitely listen to any other books by Chercover.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Delman San Francisco 11-27-11
    Richard Delman San Francisco 11-27-11 Member Since 2006

    65 y/o father of two sons. Married 25 yrs. Audible member for 8 yrs. I can hardly read books with my eyes any more. I love reviewing.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Cliched, full of stereotypes. Boring."

    This is typing, not writing, as Truman Capote (or was it Gore Vidal?) once said. The reader is very good, and I have enjoyed many of his other audiobooks, but Sean Chercover is another in a very long line of private investigators who believe they can write. Along with like-minded attorneys, this group has multiplied, due to the demand for good work in the area, and at some point they should be quietly extinguished (nothing violent, you understand). Tim Hallinan, John Grisham and John Lescroarts have nothing to worry about. Their work bears no resemblance to this trash. Save your money and your time. Listen to these three guys, in the case of Grisham the early work, and forget about Mr. Chercover. He should retire again.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 11-01-10
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 11-01-10 Member Since 2007

    I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)

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    "Decent but not great."

    I really should give this 3.5 stars. It's not really good enough to be a 4 star book, but it's better than average so 3 is too low.

    A decent little detective/noire/mafia book. Some violence, some suspense, perhaps a bit too much politicizing, but oh well, you can't have everything. Oh, and there is way too much description of room decor - I don't really care who manufactured someone's couch or what the stairs are tiled with.

    Ray Dudgeon is an interesting character. You like him and want him to make out okay, even though you suspect he won't in the long run.

    Story has a bit of mob history and some anti-government sentiment, and a basic premise that the world is corrupt. If you like that sort of stuff and don't mind a resolution that is just slightly short of miraculous, you'll like this book. It is enjoyable and quick.

    The narrator does a good job.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Torrance, CA, United States 09-25-12
    Matthew Torrance, CA, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't get out of the car!"
    What did you love best about Big City, Bad Blood?

    This is the second book I've listened to by Sean Chercover and he has a great pace, real-to-life characters, and a flawed protagonist. The sarcasm is a hoot and the situations that Ray Dudgeon gets himself into make for great storytelling.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    The plot was realistic - a PI gets himself into the middle of a mob war in Chicago. There is plenty of local flavor that keeps you in the city, while the characters float in and out with their own distinct personalities adding to the plot.


    What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

    Barrett was an excellent voice for Dudgeon He has a world-weary sarcasm that comes out well on the audiobook. He also captures the other character's voices well so that you can easily track whose involved in the conversation (Chicago cops; uptight feds; Italian Business Men; street pimps; British nurses and Japanese forgers)


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, it was hard to break away from the story and get on with the day. However, it always made going for a drive that much more enjoyable


    Any additional comments?

    I look forward to more Dudgeon audiobooks

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard G. Hough United States 05-04-12
    Richard G. Hough United States 05-04-12

    I like oaters, but then I like good books of any genre. I have well over two thousand titles in my library and expect many more.

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    "Film Noir"
    Where does Big City, Bad Blood rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Ya!


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Ya!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Ya!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Ya!


    Any additional comments?

    This is a great detective story told in the first person like the old Bogey films. Ray Dudgeon is an old school private eye and sticks with his case. Tough gritty action and a character I liked made this a favorite for me. Five stars and worth a credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Minor Indiana/USA 09-28-11
    P. Minor Indiana/USA 09-28-11 Member Since 2002
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    "Decent story"

    The story was engaging enough that I wanted to keep listening tho it was not too difficult to figure out how it would end. I love the Chicago setting. It seems so many detective stories take place in NYC or LA and I liked this one being closer to home and in a city I knew.
    The narrator was terrific except for one thing....his British accent is godawful. The "girlfriend" is supposed to be British but every time her character spoke she sounded exactly like the Geico gecko and I'd start laughing. But she was never a humorous character so the laughing spoiled the mood. And to me it sounded more like a really bad Aussie accent than
    British as well. But his other characters were great so I had to try to overlook the absurdity of her accent. But truly.....all I could see was that silly gecko in the commercials.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lia Sutton, Australia 04-08-11
    Lia Sutton, Australia 04-08-11 Member Since 2009

    I love all genres of books. However, when I listen to audio books as I clean, garden, drive they are better with a lot of heat!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really good"

    The plot hums along at a most satisfactory pace. The narrator is superb. My one nit is his mispronunciation of the street name Armitage!

    This award-winning novel is a must for all Chicagoans, and for devotees of crime fiction everywhere.

    I wonder why Audible hasn't given it more visibility.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward 05-05-10
    Edward 05-05-10 Member Since 2003

    ed_b

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    "A nice trip back to Chi"

    There are a lot of weak elements in this book. The supporting characters are, for the most part, very one-dimensional and uninteresting; the dialog is often flat, cliched, and predictable; the lead character spends way too much time obsessing over his girlfriend who doesn't like guns, and he describes room decor as though he were an interior decorator. I found myself thinking repeatedly, "I want him to be TOUGH -- and this ISN'T TOUGH!"

    But there are a lot of good elements here too, starting with the narrator. The tone he sets -- a little tough, a little jaded, but never over the top -- is just perfect. He also does a good Chicago accent, and does a great job on several others to boot. The plot and the pacing are also pretty good, if not especially original, and as a transplanted Chicagoan, I loved all of the Chicago references (although I also cringed on the mispronouncing of Armitage -- shouldn't there have been SOMEONE from Chicago to check pronunciation?).

    I probably won't read another book from this author because I did find his weaknesses a little too much to want to sit through again, but I'm not displeased I got this one -- it was a good listen.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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