As she wrote, “Some of the twenty-one dark, edgy stories in Chicago Blues are about people who sing the Blues, and some are about people who wear the Blues.” I meant to do a wrap-up of the stories, as each one seemed even better than the last, but neglected to do so until Jenny reminded me.
Although all 21 of the stories are well-chosen, well-written, and fun to read, the ones that featured music had an edge for me. I set out to rate the stories, but found that they were so consistently top-notch that my ratings were a series of very fine gradations. And who’s to say that my four-star stories wouldn’t be five-star in your estimation, and vice-versa?
So, instead, here’s a listing of the short stories and a short comment from me. My top five stories – the ones that made me say “Wow” – are in bold.
- Blue Note – Stuart M. Kaminsky Great story with a change-up ending about the nature of love and of singing the blues.
- O Death Where is Thy Sting – Kevin Guilfoile Fun for its focus on obsession and twisty ending.
- Your Sweet Man – Libby Fischer Hellman O’Henry-esque.
- Good Evenin’, Blues – Jack Fredrickson In the shadow of the el, a bar owner struggles to make sense of it all.
- Publicity Stunts – Sara Paretsky VI Warshawski plays bodyguard for a right-wing media babe (think Ann Coulter blackmails Oral Roberts)
- Guarding Lacey – Kris Nelscott A Smokey Dalton story told from a kid’s POV.
- Overproof – JA Konrath A Lt. Jack Daniels story about suicide by cop.
- The Non Compos Mentis Blues – Sean Chercover Ray Dudgeon noir.
- Scrap – Max Allan Collins Nate Heller in a union mystery with a twist
- Chasing the Blues – Michael A. Black Vice cop secrets.
- Blind Man Blues – Steven B. Mandel Cop Billy Call carries a torch for his long-missing former flame. Or is she?
- A Weekend in the Country – David A. Walker The blue brotherhood and father-and-son relationships with a bitter edge.
- A Shade of Blue – Michael Allen Dymmoch John Thinnes and the return of repressed memories.
- The Test – Sam Reaves The nature of friendship in the Outfit. True blue, but still a downer.
- My Heroes Have Always Been Short Stops – D.C. Brod True blue Cubs fan and murder.
- Code Blue – Mary V. Welk Vigilante nurse. A little over the top.
- The Sin-Eater – Sam Hill Powerful short story about family redemption.
- No One – Marcus Sakey Mr. Ordinary fights his hair-trigger temper, and loses.
- The Blue Line – Ronald Levitsky Body guard but all goes wrong
- Lower Wacker Blues – Brian Pinkerton Childhood games carried into adulthood lead to tragedy
- The Lower Wacker Hilton – Barbara D’Amato Suze Figueroa and Norm Bennis find out that the lowest of the low still own things worth killing for.
If you’ve read the book, take a minute and let me know what stories were your favorites!