obby Vargas and Arleen Brennan are both survivors of Four Corners, a poor, violent neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. A cop with the Gang Crimes unit, Bobby is facing a war between Latin drug gangs. Arlene is an "almost-39"-year-old-actress hoping for her big break—playing Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire
. But their Four Corners youth, including the rape and murder of Arleen's twin sister at age 13, won't let either of them go. Newton employs the same approach he used so successfully in his debut, Calumet City
(2007): a vast cast of characters, many deeply evil; numerous subplots (here including takes on Chicago's unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Olympics and a failing tabloid hoping to rise from the dead with a blockbuster exposé); copious violence and car chases; a granular look at the city; and a writing style that might be called fever dream. Newton ratchets up the multiple threats Bobby and Arleen face to levels that may exhaust some readers, and when the sprawling, convoluted plot finally unfolds, it is completely over the top. Still, Arlene and Bobby are wonderfully realized characters, and the beyond-frenetic action is certainly hypnotic. Newton has created the writerly equivalent of every great Chicago bluesman who ever lived playing together, all soloing simultaneously. It might be messy, but you wouldn't want to miss a single note."
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