David Mamet is best know as the playwright behind such award-winning plays as Glengarry Glen Ross, Speed-the-plow, and American Buffalo. Chicago is his fourth novel but his first in eighteen years. The winding plot follows newspaper reporter Mike Hodge as he attempts to solve a string of gang-related murders in the titular town during the 1920s. With help from his fellow reporter Clem Parlow, a black female madam named Peekaboo, and a host of colorful characters on both sides of the law, Hodge attempts to put together the pieces of a complex puzzle.
When Jewish restaurateur Jackie Weiss is gunned down inside his own establishment, the whole city writes it off as just another act of violence in a town divided in half by gangs, half Irish, half-Italian. But when Hodge can’t find a reason why anyone should want Jackie dead, he does what any good reporter would do? He starts asking questions.
Hodge’s investigation is anything but straightforward. Along the way there are the normal twists, turns and frustrations of the detective story. The case becomes tragically personal to Hodge and his psyche suffers. But amidst all the shooting and the dying, Mamet also leaves room for digressions, jokes, and absurdity.
Mamet’s style is definitely not for everyone, as the book’s low rating on Amazon proves. The scenes of looping dialogue and the detours into old reporter stories and myths could easily put off the reader who just wants to find out “whodunit.” But if you can let go and go along for the ride I think you’ll enjoy following Mike Hodge through hell and back, with a few side-trips along the way.