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    Review of BLACK DOG by Thomas Laird

    Carroll & Graf, April 2004

    Just when his partner goes on an extended vacation, Chicago police Lieutenant Jimmy Parisi gets stuck with two troubling cases. One involves a man who murders women by stealing their blood--a real-life vampire. The other, hardly high profile in gang-ridden Chicago, is the murder of an old man who lived in a cheap apartment. Jimmy becomes obsessed with the two cases. In the case of the older man, Jimmy suspects a gang leader who killed Jimmy's girlfriend years before but has never been charged with anything. And the vampire killer (dubbed the Count by the local newspapers) seems anxious to taunt Jimmy yet be able to vanish without leaving a trace.

    Jimmy's problems with his cases only adds to the troubles the homicide detective must face. His son gradually comes clean on a years-earlier episode where his priest sexually abused him and Jimmy faces high blood pressure and a lack of energy for his job. He knows that solving the cases will help, but he seems to be going through the motions.

    Author Thomas Laird draws a vivid picture of a complex Chicago made up of neighborhoods going in dramatically different directions. Jimmy is an interesting character--driven to solve crimes and afraid of what his life would be without his job. The police details ring true--even to the casual observation of the law and Jimmy's certainty that at least some of his brother cops are in the pay of the gangs they fight.

    I found the ending to be a bit of a let-down as I had anticipated that the Count would make things more difficult, that Jimmy and his friends would have had to really think of something clever to solve the crime but this remains a solid and well constructed mystery.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 4/27/04

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