Yesterday, Mulholland Books brought out the third and final paperback in Duane Swierczynski's Charlie Hardie series, a thriller called Point and Shoot. Hardie is an ex-cop—Swierczynski calls him "an alcoholic house sitter"—who finds himself in constant trouble. Swierczynski, who lives in the Northeast and is the former editor of the City Paper, has him pegged on a line between a row house Philly and the Hollywood Hills. This final book in the series has Hardie back home in Philly, "trying like hell to make it to Philadelphia before another death squad tries to cut you down."
Swierczynski says he is hard at work on a Philly-centric crime epic; we await details from his publisher.
Main Line mystery writer Merry Jones is also on roll; she's brought out two books in the last few months, including The Trouble With Charlie (Oceanview) and Winter Break (Severn House). Like, Swierczynski, her mystery man is named Charlie; but this one is all but dead when we meet him, murdered in his Fairmount row house—or is he? Philadelphia is all over this story, but so is Charlie, a misanthrope who comes to haunt his fiancé Elle Brooks. Jones is an accomplished writer, whose next mystery Outside Eden is due out in July, just in time for long afternoons reading at the Shore.
Not to be outdone by the Philly mayhem, Queen Village's Camino Books—moving its offices to Center City in May—has brought out The Detroit True Crime Chronicles, by lawyer Scott Burnstein. There are more bodies per paragraph in this collection—and more outlandish nicknames—than just about any crime novel you're likely to pick up. The writing is tight, studded with detail and personalities, and stunning in its thoroughness. No stone unturned here.
The book spans the century, and hits just about every crime boss and miscreant to creep around the broken up streets of Detroit, including "Ernie the Greek" Kanakis and Jimmy Hoffa. Mafia expert Paul Kavieff contributes a chapter on a Prohibition-era Jewish mob called the Purple Gang, whose leaders were brothers named Burnstein. By 1930, notes Kavieff, there was a gangland murder in the Motor City every day.
The strength of the book, according to a foreword by urban ecologist and sociologist Carl Taylor of Michigan State University, is to "connect the history to the present state of organized crime," and to connect the crime world to a wider understanding of an "American that is not part of the mainstream."