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Editorial 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.

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    76
  • 4 Stars
    84
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    68
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    7

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    70
  • 4 Stars
    45
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    20
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    4

Story

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    56
  • 4 Stars
    49
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    6
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  • 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.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jim N
  • Chicago, IL
  • 08-05-15

Solid Detective Novel

Joe Barrett's note-perfect performance and Sean Chercover's skilled evocation of Chicago (and Hollywood) were my favorite aspects of this solid detective novel. Dudgeon's a good character and the story dances around some clichés of the genre while effectively utilizing others. There's nothing startling original here but if you're in the mood for a hard-boiled detective story, Big City, Bad Blood delivers.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Enjoyable & very up to date

I really enjoyed this book (except for the getting beat up part). The author was up to date & this was refreshing. The story line was intriguing too. I recommend others read it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Lia
  • Sutton, Australia
  • 04-08-11

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.

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Not like most stories in the genre.

Sean Chercover hit his stride here. Made fiction writing look easy. It helps that Joe Barrett was telling the story, not giving any indication of was reading it. That's how simple and good this is.

The character, Ray Dudgeon, was intriguing because by his nature he does illegal things. One gets the impression that Chicago remains the gangster city it once was. That gave the story a uniqueness.

I blew through this book, don't know where the time went.