Collection of stories in the heart of 1950’s South/North Side Chicago where an all proper and by the book Detective Lieutenant Andrew Brooke tends to find himself in partnership with the freewheeling renegade Private Investigator Frank Lydecker. Together they form a formidable team that tackles the issue of solving complex murder mysteries. Some are hot, but the majority of these cases have turned so cold that persons of interest have been long time gone.
For Frank Lydecker life is quite simple. Wake up, enjoy the creaks and groans of old architecture, grab a newspaper at your favourite newsstand, shadow box with the young clerk Chic Latimer who always seems to catch you with your guard too high and a complementary left hook to the body. From there you follow your nose to Jack’s Diner where the scent of frying bacon can guide you for miles. You chitchat with your favourite waitress, have a cup of your favourite coffee (lifeblood), enjoy your breakfast, read the paper and wait for your next lead. This is the small routine Frank Lydecker, Private Investigator lives by day in and day out and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Frank and Andrew grew up best friends, pretty much brothers, if you ask Frank he is the big brother even if he was born a few days prior. Growing up they embraced their mischievous nature by stealing everything that wasn’t bolted down and selling it for a pretty penny. Over time their paths took different turns, Andrew going down the more clearer path built on structure and routine in the police force, while Frank traveled down the path of uncertainty, handling situations the way he sees fit, and doing his job on his own terms, that of a maverick from the wild west.
The first story The Radio Man tells a story of a group of men from the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division who fought together during a war. This story dictates the lengths people will go to make sure secrets are kept till the grave. The second story The Girl in the Red Cloche Hat involves a painting once used for a magazine advertisement and the battle two men go through to maintain ownership. The painting may be worth squat, but true beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. The third story In the Matter of the Tattered Case an enterprising father Thomas tries to pass on his love of antiques to his beloved son Tommy Jr. When they get their hands on an unknown picture of Ulysses S. Grant finding the true value will come at a big cost. This story will have you reminiscing about the famous line “Luke, I am your father.”
The fourth story Fall Guys All in a Row shows how a woman in a red dress truly is a devil in disguise. Level by level the organizational hierarchy of a brokerage firm is thrown when greed, envy, sex, threats, and predispositions get in the way of doing business. The last story is called The Choice and involves the tragedy facing a European man after the death of his wife and disappearance of his only daughter. When life grabs a hold it is sometimes hard to let go and the only thing left to do is succumb to its power.
The stories that make up Volume 2 focused mainly on the delusions that life can bring as a result of cultural influence, feminine wiles, acts of war, sense of ownership, and parental rights. These stories are very well constructed and historically sound with respect to the involved crimes. It is not a literary piece that has you marvel at its beauty, but it is a bare boned mystery that will leave you guessing until the last second.