cover image The Lion's Share

The Lion's Share

Robert Campbell, R. Wright Campbell. Mysterious Press, $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-609-7

Every cloud seems to have a silver lining in the tenth Jimmy Flannery mystery (following Sauce for the Goose). The rise of sewer inspector Flannery through Chicago's political ranks might be expected to stall with the death of his longtime mentor, Chips Devlin. The old man goes gently, in his bed, with a smile on his old Irish face and possibly after some paid female company; he has bequeathed his Bridgeport house to Flannery, his wife and their baby daughter. The political vacuum left by Devlin's passing is one that disgraced congressman Leo Lundatos would cheerfully fill, with Flannery's help. Meanwhile, two ex-cops, one a recent sex change, are fighting over a prostitution franchise. One of their contested employees, very possibly Devlin's last angel of mercy, dies in a house owned by Lundatos's wife, a perky redhead with an unsettling effect on Flannery. Although Campbell doesn't provide a great deal of narrative firepower here, he musters all the romantic urban crime elements that have garnered this series its deserved heap of praise: the ever noble Flannery; the anachronistic Chicago neighborhood settings; and a forgiving approach to those, such as a good woman who turns to prostitution for a host of noble reasons, who fail to be saints in the city. Flannery's grammar might stumble on occasion, but his Hibernian heart is always in the right place. (May)