One of Ours: A Joe Erickson Mystery
by Lynn-Steven Johanson
Level Best Books

"Sam threw himself inside the open door of Apartment 2A, rolling on the floor and firing at a woman holding a gun."

When their captain is murdered, Chicago detectives Joe Erickson and Sam Renaldo are given the case. Joe had just recently spoken with the captain, who admitted he would soon retire. The captain said he had one cold case he really wanted to solve before he left and felt like he had a good lead. If it panned out, he wanted Joe and his partner to take the case. As the detectives search for clues, they figure out their captain was shot while apparently meeting with someone about the cold case. They know the case involves a very influential city alderman, and they need to be careful about whose toes get stepped on. The closer they get to the truth, the more dangerous things get for them and any potential witnesses. To make matters worse, they realize there may be dirty cops involved, and they aren’t sure whom to trust.

Johanson writes clear, controlled prose and does an excellent job with the story's pacing. It is a book that is easy to read for longer periods than expected. He is obviously versed in the noir detective genre because that DNA is found in this novel. However, the work is modernized, and the main characters are more reformed and refined than fallen and fatalistic. This may throw off some hard-core detective fans, but most readers will enjoy the protagonist, who is good at setting up a sting operation and cooking an exquisite dinner with an appropriately matched wine. Although the identity of the crooked cops is barely in question, the well-written adventure and likable characters make this an easy book to recommend to anyone who enjoys detective fiction.

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