Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Mean Town Blues

by Sam Reaves


Young Kentucky-born Tommy McClain is wounded in Iraq.† The stomach wound is serious enough to end his military career and send him stateside to begin his civilian life.† Tommy hasnít planned for living in a normal society, so he moves to Chicago where he can room with his old high school buddy, Brian, while he searches for his vocation and his future.† It seems that the only sort of employment Tommy can find is janitorial work, and he soon lines up two part-time jobs with a meager income and little challenge.† Itís not much of an existence, but Tommy figures he can squeak by until he decides what to do with his life. And then Brian introduces Tommy to a couple of nice local girls.

Lisa, one of the girls, tells Tommy that sheís being stalked, so Tommy decides to make sure that the young lady isnít bothered or possibly attacked by her secret admirer.† Tommy discovers that the†stalker is a bar owner, so he goes to the tavern to confront the man and hopefully scare him off.† The situation quickly deteriorates and Tommy winds up killing the man.† Tommy knows that he would likely have to face murder charges so he erases all evidence of his visit and simply fades into the background.

It turns out that the man that Tommy killed is actually Joe Salerno, a mob guy, the son of a powerful gangster. Soon rival gang membersí bodies begin showing up at the morgue, and it looks like a major mob war is about to break out in the streets of Chicago. And then the brother of Joe Salernoís bartender becomes a suspect in the killing.† The whole affair has turned into a giant mess with the potential for wholesale slaughter of people who had nothing to do with the original incident.† Tommy feels responsible and tries to straighten everything out.† In the meantime, two police departments and the FBI have become involved and are targeting Tommy as the key to the mystery.

This is really my kind of book, and author Sam Reaves has woven an amazingly tangled web.† For all of its twists and turns, the story never becomes confusing and seems to be headed in a clear direction... until Reaves throws another angle into the mix.† Tommy, the main character, is the classic anti-hero.† Heís definitely not an angel, but he has values and keeps the greater good in focus at all times. The story is dark and noir.† If it was a movie, it would be in black and white. I love the blend of terror and humor in this book.† Itís a very good read.

The Book

Pegasus Books
January 15, 2010
Mystery / Thriller
More at

The Reviewer

Dennis Collins
Reviewed 2010
NOTE: Reviewer Dennis Collins is the author of The Unreal McCoy and the second installment in this series, Turn Left at September. He's also's "Between the Pages" columnist, covering the mystery genre and related topics.
© 2010