The Gumshoe by Richard Rose
The city of Chicago is as much a character in Richard Rose’s novel The Gumshoe as its main character, private investigator Mathew “Matt” McBride. As the story unfolds, the reader accompanies McBride through the streets of post-war Chicago, visiting such landmarks as the Green Mill jazz club, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Drake Hotel. McBride even pays a visit to the elite Gold Coast neighborhood and regularly cruises along the lakefront Outer Drive.
If nothing else, this story is one closely intertwined with the urban heartbeat of Chicago.
Rose certainly knows how to pay his respects to the story’s location, weaving in small references to Chicago’s past such as a character named O’Leary (a nod to the infamous Mrs O’Leary whose cow allegedly began the Great Fire of 1871). It is a thrill to see such detail incorporated into the novel, and these historic elements ground the story firmly in a time and place the reader won’t want to leave.
The Gumshoe follows McBride as he attempts to find the truth behind his best friend’s “suicide,” which he believes was murder. With past experience as a beat cop, detective, and Marine, McBride has sworn off taking orders from anyone but himself and now operates as a private investigator. His quest for the truth brings him up against the amoral underbelly of Chicago: corrupt politicians, dangerous mobsters, and sharp-shooting Texans.
Vivid characters such as these continually bring the mystery to life as everyone around him becomes the focus of McBride’s scrutiny. The richness of each personality brings the story to life as McBride gets closer and closer to what actually happened to his friend. The believability of these characters and the world in which they live make this a story that is easy to get swept up. This is not your average mystery; the manner in which Rose treats his characters and locations creates a world that is truly alive.
Not only is The Gumshoe filled with lifelike characters and locations, but it is also filled with plenty of twists, turns, and action. Our hero’s determination often brings him face to face with death, which he can typically escape with a combination of skill and luck. This is certainly a story with enough surprises to keep the heart-pounding and even the most astute minds guessing until the very end.
This is absolutely a great summer read, best enjoyed during an afternoon or two on the beach. I would recommend The Gumshoe to mystery lovers, or anyone who has a love of old Chicago. The attention to detail and the twisting plot in this novel will not disappoint.
To read more about Richard Rose, visit his website here.
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