Start Shooting by Charlie Newton
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Publication Date: 2012
Source: Copy Provided by Publisher
The Short Version:
A murder from 25 years ago comes back to haunt a Chicago cop and the victim’s sister as they’re both caught up in a maze of corruption, political maneuvering and trouble that’s bigger than either of them expects.
Why I Read It:
When Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts says to me, “I think you’ll like this one” I almost automatically add it to my TBR list. She’s got great taste in books and she’s also become familiar with the types of books I like. When you have a friend like that you trust their opinion more than the average review.
Because this book is complex and has multiple intertwining storylines it’s difficult for me to attempt to put together a coherent synopsis without inadvertently getting all spoilery. When that happens I fall back on using the publishers comments.
“The best way I can describe the Four Corners neighborhood of Chicago is find a length of rebar, scratch a big cross into the concrete, set your feet solid in the quadrant you like best, lean back, and start shooting.”
Officer Bobby Vargas is hard-edged but idealistic, a Chicago cop who stands at the epicenter of a subterranean plot that will have horrific ramifications for both himself and the entire city. Twenty-five years earlier, a gruesome murder rocked the unforgiving streets of Four Corners. Now, suddenly, a dying Chicago paper is running a serial exposé on new evidence in that old case, threatening to implicate Bobby and his older brother, Ruben—a decorated, high-ranking detective and cop-prince of the streets. The smear campaign stirs up decades-old bad blood, leading the Vargas brothers down an increasingly twisted and terrifying path, where the sins of the past threaten to destroy what remains of the truth.
As readers and critics discovered in his first novel, Calumet City, Charlie Newton’s Chicago is a landscape as brutal and poignant as any in modern crime fiction—a multi-faceted, shockingly violent labyrinth of gangland politics, political backstabbing, corporate malfeasance, and, possibly, hope. Start Shooting is a riveting read.
Well Jen was right. I did like this one. I liked it quite a bit actually. The story is told alternately by Bobby Vargas and by Arleen Brennan in the first person. Their voices are unique and the pacing of the narrative comes in short bursts. The time stamps when the scene changes provide the framework to be able to place yourself in the story’s timeline. Since both Bobby and Arleen interact with Bobby’s brother Ruben as well as several other characters the two viewpoints round out the character of Ruben despite the fact that Ruben never directly tells his own part of the story.
It’s fast paced but complex so even though it started out quick and drew me in right away, it was not until I was well into the book that things started coming together for me. There were a couple of points where I wasn’t sure where things were going and whether I’d end up liking it or not but the final third of the book was hard for me to take breaks from because I wanted to finish it in one sitting.
I have not read Newton’s previous novel, Calumet City but I have now added it to my TBR list. This is an author I’ll be watching. If you like gritty noir style cop stories you should do the same.
Someone needs to give Quentin Tarantino a copy of this book. It reads like one of his films and he would make a great film version of this.