The Chimney Sweeper: A Murder Novel

John Peyton Cooke, Author
John Peyton Cooke, Author Mysterious Press $21.95 (309p) ISBN 978-0-89296-523-6
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 288 pages - 978-0-446-40388-7
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Arriving in Isthmus City, Wis., (think Madison) with ``forty-two cents in change, and a stolen .38 revolver that had four live rounds in a six-chambered cylinder,'' a hustler soon murders a transvestite and stuffs the body into the chimney of an abandoned house. That's just for openers in this gritty and graphic, tell-it-like-it-is tale of violence, betrayal and murder. After stints as bartender and boy-toy for an older gay man, protagonist Jesse James Colson meets Will Gunther, an openly gay Isthmus City cop. Unable to resist the uniform's appeal, Jesse joins the force and links up romantically with Will. Another cop tells Jesse that ``a murder is like a marriage''--a theory that proves true in forceful and unexpected fashion. Cooke's (Torsos) skillful plotting and credible characters lend an unsettling air to this often brutally effective, noir mystery. His deceptively simple prose is tinged with dark humor and more than a touch of menace, while flashbacks to Jesse's teen years provide a reliable underpinning for a solidly drawn, fascinating antihero. (Apr.)
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