Politics as Blood Sport
By Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Sunday Book Review
January 6, 2012
an't get enough of Chicago? The most dynamic character in Charlie Newton's fierce first novel, "Calumet City," and its terrific sequel, START SHOOTING (Doubleday, $25.95), is the Windy City -- the down and dirty side of it, anyway. The narration alternates between a cop named Bobby Vargas, and Arleen Brennan, whose twin sister was raped and murdered back when they were all just 13. Now Bobby and his homicide detective brother, Ruben ("a fine doorway full of man"), are policing a gang war involving the Latin Kings, and Arleen is caught in the cross-fire. "The big gangs in the ghetto districts outnumber us 12 to 1 and have better guns," according to Bobby. "What's that say about America?" The plot is a hot mess, with Newton fielding multiple story lines, dual time frames and too many conspiracies. But the voices reverberate in your ears, and the smell of gunfire lingers long after the last man is down.
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