The one-page prologue of sorts, headed “Chicago,” opens with the words “The girl was thirteen and Irish, and fashioned out of sunlight so bright she made you believe in angels,” and ends with these:
“Nineteen years I’ve been a ghetto cop and thought I’d worked every heartbreaking, horror combination possible. But I hadn’t. I wasn’t marginally prepared for how bad six days could get. And neither was anyone else.” And then the author details those six days, the p.o.v. alternating between that of Arleen Brennan and Bobby Vargas, the cop. The writer’s style is such that there was a smile on my face at page 1 [following the single page containing that prologue], which describes the Four Corners neighbourhood in the South Side of Chicago, and its multi-cultural inhabitants.
The tale begins in the winter of 1982, filling in a lot of the history of Chicago over the last 50+ years, even for those who think they remember all the stories of corruption and race riots. Chicago is hopeful of hosting the 2016 Olympics and the “salvation” it would surely mean for the city, with the ensuing influx of revenue for a cash-strapped town. All very entertaining, with just an undercurrent of danger - - until the shooting starts, that is. At that point, things take a different turn, becoming dark and edgy, with a fair amount of violence. The craziness gets a bit hard to follow at times, but that didn’t slow the turning of pages at all.
is just one thing Arleen and Bobby have in common, for a future, and ame, as an actress and a guitar-playing musician, respectively. But Arleen is waiting tables, and Bobby is a cop who plays “in the band, weekends around town;” one other thing they have in common is a deep love for their siblings.
Start Shooting is one of the most original novels I’ve read in a while, and though I can’t say I held my breath as it headed towards it denouement, I was white-knuckled from gripping the book so tightly in my hands. Highly recommended.
Also by Charlie Newton Calumet City featuring Patti Black, the most decorated cop in Chicago.