cover image Windy City

Windy City

Hugh Holton. Forge, $22.95 (319pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85711-0

Two of the least believable killers in recent crime fiction stumble and cackle their way through Chicago as Holton (Presumed Dead) loses his way somewhere between a procedural and a parody of gothic horror. Chicago billionaire Neil DeWitt likes to torture and kill young women. Margo, his wife, likes to kill young black boys. They're nasty and deranged--and stupid, which becomes apparent when Margo blurts out murder details at a party attended by Chicago Police Commander Larry Cole. Soon, the witnesses to the first murders end up at the morgue as the body count rises. The DeWitts take many of their killing moves from the books of Chicago-area mystery writers, whom Cole calls on for help to spring a trap. Cole zeroes in on Margo, who has tortured her way across several states, intent on emulating a mythical witch from a classic horror tale. Her ultimate target is the commander's young son. This outing might have been fun and/or gripping if Holton had stopped straddling the fence between writing a camp cartoon or a realist cop tale. The best moments center on one minor character, a crime writer with a surprisingly violent past. (Aug.)