Today, I’m doing a book review of North and Central by Bob Hartley.
It’s about a bartender who has a bar in Chicago in the late 1970s. Basically, it’s a really great story, but not a happy story by any means. Chicago is going through the problems of a Rust Belt city. The factory workers come into this bar, and the cops who are corrupt come into this bar. And it’s all about urban decay, blue collar workers struggling to get by, and cops who are taking advantage of their position to pull off all sorts of things.
And this bar owner has a close friend who’s a corrupt cop and gets in over his head, basically. And it’s interesting because there are a group of characters—even though there’s one main protagonist—there is kind of a group of characters that you get to know, and they’re very funny at times, even though they’re sort of pathetic, too. They’re very funny, but there’s no way you would confuse this bar with the bar in Cheers.
This is a definite noir and so if you enjoy a gritty crime fiction and humor in the same package, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s well-written, it’s about very relevant topics that appeal to me, and I highly recommend it. And Bob Hartley is going to be on my podcast the Crime Cafe, eventually. I was sent this copy, not in order to do a review of it, but simply to get familiar with his work, and I’m doing a review of it, anyway. So I loved it, and I would highly recommend it to anybody who likes crime fiction and noir in general. So that’s it for now. And I’ll talk to you later.