Bobby the Lip, a scheming down-on-his-luck sports promoter, intends to score big by setting up and fixing a bout between Tomcat Gordon, the reigning champion, and Junior, a black contender. But everyone wants a piece of the action and The Lip soon finds himself having to outsmart a complicated web of crooks, bookies, detectives, and mob goons. Big bets knock the odds in the air as both the police and the mob begin to close in on The Lip, smelling the fix and a profit. And just before the big night, a couple of dead bodies and a secret from Junior’s past turn up, threatening to upset the big plan.

A slice of underworld life, ’57, Chicago is fact based fiction at its best.  A thriller, mystery and peek into the action behind the action, it’s a fast paced narrative that is impossible to put down.

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Boxing champ Larry Holmes once said, “All fighters are prostitutes and all promoters are pimps.” In Steve Monroe’s first book, ’57, Chicago, the former newspaper reporter fleshes out a similar portrait of life in and around the ring. Monroe makes heroes out of shady characters in the world of boxing, bookies and the Mob. They’re not always likable or deep, but they’re interesting enough to keep the story moving and the reader engaged, even a reader with little or no interest in boxing….This is a story with a plot that builds, twists and turns in the tradition of classic crime/suspense pulp fiction. But Monroe manages to throw in a few unanticipated jabs whenever the action lags.
USA Today
Less imaginative and talented writers than Monroe, a former reporter and real estate broker, would have gone the predictable route for an ending. But he manages to cook up enough of a plot twist — a couple, in fact — that takes this crackling first effort to a higher plain.

It requires a bit of grinding to manoeuvre through the first quarter of the book, mainly trying to keep track of all the players and secondary plots as well as all the bookie talk. In fact, I learned enough about bookmaking to consider taking it up as a second summer job.

But once ’57, Chicago settles into a more even pace, it resonates with authentic dialogue, very believable characters and the natural colour that emanates from such unique atmospheres as the boxing and gambling worlds, not to mention the time period. And if you think ’57, Chicago would make a sizzling movie, bang on. The money minders at Miramax Films are already on the case.

Ottawa Sun
Promoters and bookies are usually the bad guys in boxing novels, the shady backroom types who corrupt the sport for the sake of a betting edge. That’s true up to a point in Monroe’s gritty, atmospheric first novel about the events preceding a big heavyweight fight in 1957 Chicago, but here the cast of characters–from athletes to gamblers–is not arranged on a moral continuum.The central figures in Monroe’s story are Eddie “the Lip” Lipranski, a down-on-his-luck promoter who hopes to hit the big time by setting up a fight between two up-and-coming heavyweights, and Al Kelly, a veteran “lay-off” bookie who survives by always evening out the bets he takes. Except that this time nothing works out as either Al or the Lip have planned it. Monroe fills his novel with fascinating detail on how to run a sports book, and his dialogue crackles with authenticity. Less a crime novel than a slice of underworld life, this impressive debut (’46, Chicago is up next in the series) will remind noir fans of early George Pelecanos.
THE LINE: Chicago in the mid-fifties. A boxing promoter named Eddie “The Lip” Liprankski and his black fighter Junior “The Hammer” Hamilton. A foxy fur-coat-wearing girlfriend. The Big Fight. Money. Bookies. The fight’s fixed. All you need for a noir novel, it would seem, yet ’57, Chicago ranks many notches above your run-of-the-mill boxing novel. Monroe writes in a slangy, gritty, knife-edged style that packs a big wallop. ALSO NOTE: Boxing fiction is a big thing lately (witness the critical and commercial success of F.X. Toole’s story collection Rope Burns last year), and Monroe’s debut is a welcome addition to the genre. The plot is fairly conventional stuff, but newcomer Monroe’s dialogue – and there’s a ton of dialogue here – is really good: “‘Bounced, shmounced, you fucking circus freak. Throw on a fur coat so some hunter shoots your ass. Better yet, just take off your shirt. You probably look like a bear even without the coat.'”