I am always flattered when after a personal communication an author sends me their book for an opinion.
When I received Shooters and Chasers from author Lenny Kleinfeld I noted it already had very positive blurbs on the back cover from Chicago natives Joe Mantegna [The Godfather Part III, House of Games, and TVs Criminal Minds] and William Petersen [TVs CSI Crime Scene Investigation].
The revered Chicago architect Wilson Willetts is gunned down and it appears to be a street mugging gone wrong. The alleged mugger Meelo Garcia, is identified by a witness and is found to have the victim's wallet, and the murder weapon, in his car; so it looks like an open and shut case.
But Meelo claims to have been in his motel room at the time of the murder, because "Oscar" told him to stay there, and then he tells a bizarre story of being set up as the patsy in the case.
Homicide detectives, Mark Bergman and John "Doonie" Dunegan are inclined to believe Meelo, especially when the headless body of a possible defence witness turns up in Indiana.
Wilson Willetts had entered a design for the new LAFAM [Los Angeles Fine Arts Museum] and was in competition with two other architects backed by wealthy and very influential people quite capable of arranging such a complicated set up.
The professional killers behind both the set up and in arranging the murder, Arthur Reid [Oscar] and Dina Velaros, are in the tentative pre-love affair stage in their relationship but still have time to try and cover their tracks, as DNA and ballistic evidence mounts that the crime was committed by a Meelo look-alike. Arthur wants to retire and produce $600 a bottle fine wines, Dina wants Arthur. These almost sympathetic villains are hunted by the detectives Mark, young and handsome, and veteran Doonie, very married with a bad back, who travel to LA and California's wine country in their quest to track down the murderer and his employers.
Shooters and Chasers is written in a very different style from the British books I had just read [Val McDermid and Agatha Christie] and naturally it took me a little while to adjust to the American police procedural/crime caper style, and Lenny's slightly wacky world of lawyers, crooks, DAs, cops, cock fights, boutique wine makers, wealthy architects and other assorted eccentrics.
Shooters and Chasers was almost like a collaboration between Elmore Leonard, and Ed McBain, and as such it was great fun and an exciting read.
The book is well researched as evidenced by Dina's relationship with ERMA her $9,000 German sniper rifle; while I found the clever technique of using shifting points of view retelling the same events from different perspectives, with overlapping timelines, really worked to help create a first novel with a clever plot, lots of action, witty dialogue and many memorable characters.
Shooters and Chasers is Lenny Kleinfeld's first novel, and is available on the Amazon UK both in hardback and Kindle.
Many of the owners were cops, fireman and small businessmen. The majority ethnicity was Irish, the culture was Catholic, and the religion was the Cook County Democratic Party.