Friday, June 4, 2010

Corruption at Jamestown Prison and Nobody's Angel

5/30/10 Two recent crime novels offer intriguing insights into occupations that often are overlooked.

Corruption at Jamestown Prison by AJ Hutchison (AJ Hutchison, $9.95) is a self-published paperback set mostly at a thinly veiled Jackson State Prison.

As the title suggests, it focuses on inappropriate behavior by authorities, including the cover-up of the murder of a female officer.

It opens in the late 1980s, introducing Anne Morgan, who applies for a job with the Department of Corrections after graduating from college and passing a civil service exam.

Although she gets the job as a prison guard, she fights sexism and is exposed to significant violent behavior.

She toughens up, dealing with racism, drug usage and illegal weapons, even bad attitudes by the inmates and staff. Morgan investigates corruption, gathering information from a variety of sources. When other officers die and her own life is threatened, the tension increases.

This eye-opening debut novel has many flaws, including a primitive cover design, numerous typographical errors and spacing problems; a lack of indentation for paragraphs slows the pacing.

Nobody's Angel by Jack Clark (Hard Case Crime, $7.99) is the first professional release of a book that the author self-published in 1996. He had 500 copies printed, selling them to passengers in his taxi.

It's a memorable, dark and gritty tale that showcases Eddie Miles, an experienced cab driver who's prowled the streets of Chicago for years.

In a dark alley, Miles discovers the bleeding body of a young woman. That's just the beginning of his problems. Somebody's been robbing and killing cabbies in the Windy City, making all of the drivers nervous.

Although they're careful about the fares they accept and the areas they go into, the cabbies are very worried. Some are arming themselves with guns. Miles carries a can of Mace instead; he's concerned, but is trying to track down the killer who's targeting young prostitutes.

Laced with dark humor and insights into a wide assortment of passenger behavior, this slim paperback has strong characterization and a great sense of location.

Clark is the author of the Shamus-award nominated crime novel Westerfield's Chain, also set in Chicago.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on May 30, 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment