Corrupted Souls: A Joe Erickson Mystery
by Lynn-Steven Johanson
Level Best Books

"The man moved his arms down to his sides. Then Joe walked up and kicked him in the groin. "That’s for blowing up my Camaro!'"

Chicago is the locale for this contemporary mystery that begins with a dead body that appears to result from a hate crime. But is it? An apparent suicide follows, but is it suicide or murder? Are the two events coincidental, connected, or perhaps collateral damage meant to conceal even more crimes? Cops are on the case, and readers get to go along for the intricate ride in this absorbing tale that is both murder mystery and police procedural.

Joe is the Windy City detective assigned to the initial investigation. He's just been reinstated and given permission to resume his duties after having been psychologically shell-shocked on a previous serial killer case. Joe still has to check in once a week with the department's shrink to ensure flashbacks and recurrent nightmares aren't overwhelming him. But he's determined to keep those emotional challenges on the back burner as he and his partner try to figure out exactly who's leaving bodies behind and why. Soon they find themselves in the middle of potential corporate skullduggery, organized crime connections, trafficking of more than just illicit substances, and a particularly dysfunctional family dynamic.

Johanson is a writer skilled in the art of using seemingly minor details to illuminate particularly important information. He also shows impressive depth in his knowledge of police operations and investigations. In this tale, the author has opted for more of a pragmatic tone than a passionate one. With its more or less dismissal of tired genre cliches such as cliffhangers, car chases, and manufactured mayhem, Johanson's approach somehow seems right for the story as well as for what poet Carl Sandburg referred to as the "City of the Big Shoulders."

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