May 30, 1956. Chicago On a quiet street corner in a working-class neighborhood of Holocaust survivors and refugees, the body of a little schoolboy is found in a suitcase. He’s naked and chopped up into small pieces. The grisly crime is handed over to two detectives who carry their own personal burdens, Hank Purcell, a married WWII veteran, and his partner, a wise-cracking Jewish cop who loves trouble as much as he loves the bottle. Their investigation leads them through the dark corners and mean streets of Chicago—as more and more suitcases begin appearing. Based on the Schuessler-Peterson murders that terrorized Chicago in the 1950s.
About the Author:
Born in a refugee camp after World War II, John Guzlowski came with his family to the United States as a Displaced Person in 1951. His parents had been Polish slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and refugee neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, he met hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead comrades, and women who had walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians.
His poetry, fiction, and essays try to remember them and their voices. His poems also remember his parents, who survived their slave labor experiences in Nazi Germany. A number of these poems appear in his books Language of Mules, Lightning and Ashes (Steel Toe Books), and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald (Finishing Line Press). Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, reviewing the Polish translation of Language of Mules, for the journal Tygodnik Powszechny, said, “This volume astonished me.”
A Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University, John Guzlowski currently lives in Danville, Virginia, where he recently completed a novel about the German soldiers who murdered his mother’s family during the Second World War. The novel, Road of Bone, is available from Cervena Barva Press and Amazon. Garrison Keillor read Guzlowski’s poem “What My Father Believed” on his program, The Writers Almanac. Guzlowski’s other poems and stories have appeared in such national journals as North American Review, Ontario Review, Rattle, Chattahoochee Review, Atlanta Review, Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review, Marge, Poetry East, Vocabula Review and in the anthology Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust.
He was the featured poet in the 2007 edition of Spoon River Poetry Review. Dr. Guzlowski’s critical essays on contemporary American, Polish, and Jewish authors can be the found in such journals as Modern Fiction Studies, Polish Review, Shofar, Polish American Studies, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, and Studies in Jewish American Literature.
Currently Available at:
My Book Tour Review:
It's 1956 and the city of Chicago is being terrorized by a ruthless killer. Someone is murdering children, draining their blood, chopping them up and stuffing them in suitcases. Hank Purcell is a seasoned detective and WWII veteran, assigned to the case. Along with his trouble-making, heavy drinking partner, Marvin Bondarowicz, the detectives search for clues among the dregs of the city.
John Guzlowski has fictionalized a true-crime story and he's done a fantastic job of it. The subject matter is dark and going noir was probably the best, if not only, way to do it. 1950s Chicago probably had a certain grittiness to it and the characters in this novel definitely reflect that. The author remained true to the era and I appreciated that. I also appreciated the ending - without giving away spoilers, I liked the way book ended. And, although there was a satisfying conclusion, there still remains an opportunity for a sequel(s) involving these two detectives.
I would recommend this book to fans of the noir genre and anyone who enjoys a good whodunit. I'll look forward to more from this author!
5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton