Chicago cop Gus Carson was bad, crooked, and dangerous before he went to war. But, having survived a Japanese submarine attack in the Pacific, he returns a changed man. So it is plain lousy luck that he’s with a pretty hooker in a brothel when a gunman murders two people. Old habits die hard, and Carson takes the gunman down, saving the state of Illinois the cost of a trial…and gets suspended from the police department for his good deed. Now, with few prospects and no cash, Carson accepts a job that reeks: an aspiring politician hires him to find a kidnapped black racketeer. The hunt will send Carson on a dangerous ride through the city, where his life soon isn’t worth the price of a beer. And for those who dont remember the 1940s, that’s a few cents. A page-turning noir detective story, 46, Chicago proves Monroe to be a new master of the genre.

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Friday, May 10, 1946

Com Ed rationing electricity is like a hooker rationing the cooze, I thought, as the dishwater blonde worked for a tip.

Nine days into the dimout and the madam who ran the brothel followed the edict; the room was lit by lantern. I watched as my girl finished in the flickering light; our shadows played a skin flick on the wall. She left the room, came back with a wet rag, cleaned me up.

“Like your work?” I asked.

She ignored it: “That’s three dollars.”

“I’m a veteran,” I said.

She never looked up. “So am I, honey. All right, make it two.”

I sat up on the side of the bed, grabbed my boxers off the end table, slipped them on. I grabbed two singles and a quarter, handed them to her.

“Hope you don’t have to work nights to make up for that tip,” she said as she wadded the bills and grabbed her housecoat off the floor.

“You want more coin, suck a mint,” I said.

No laugh. She eyeballed me. “Want another one? On the house?”

I laughed. “You must be new.”

She nodded. “Rita. Ask for me next time, huh?”

Chicago thunder roared. “That sounded like a gunshot,” she said. It clapped again. She yelped, dove off the back of the bed. I grabbed my .38, opened the door to a dark hallway. I watched the glow from the candles situated on the banister, saw a figure burst out of a room, two doors down. It ran my way. I got a quick make: a colored man – dark hands popped out of his coat-sleeves, hat pulled down low, a gray scarf wrapped around his face. He held a .45.

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From white-hot rising talent Monroe (’57, Chicago, 2001), a punishing cops and robbers tale that won’t win any prizes for subtlety, though there’s much to admire in its two-fisted directness… Monroe has taken the nightmarish post-Chandler crime operas of James Ellroy and distilled their rough-and-tumble style through the two-dimensional worldview of Mike Hammer,bringing everything down to the core essentials of graft, sex, violence, and realpolitick. The same old dirty-cop-in-a-dirtier-city tune is made to sound like something completely new.
Kirkus Reviews
This detective story offers not only a splendid sense of place and time but also a swift plot, crackerjack dialogue and an oddly appealing hero. Fans of noir will take it to heart.
Chicago Sun Times
Former bad cop Gus Carson must battle both criminals and his past in this well-crafted work of hard-boiled fiction from Monroe (’57, Chicago)… Monroe not only manages to capture perfectly the flavor of 1940s Chicago but also writes in wonderfully spare prose. The obvious comparison is to James Ellroy, but Monroe deserves to have this one stand on its own. Recommended for public libraries.
Library Journal
As he did in his first novel, ’57, Chicago, Monroe brings distinction to a fairly conventional noir plot. His juxtaposition of caviar-class white and worker-class black cultures adds depth to this occasionally violent drama, his exposure of Carson’s conscience is patiently and convincingly done, and some of the dialogue here is sharp enough to cut lips. ’46 Chicago treads where more practiced detective novelists, such as Max Allan Collins, have already been, but still leaves tracks worth following.
J. Kingston Pierce