There might be a better person to write a novel about Chicago in the 1920’s than David Mamet, famous for his screenplays for the movies The Untouchables and Wag the Dog and his Pulitzer Prize winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross, but it’s hard to imagine who that might be. Mamet’s new book, Chicago, is his first novel in decades, and it’s set in the rich and dangerous world of Prohibition era Chicago, like The Untouchables.
The protagonist is Mike Hodge, a veteran of World War I, currently working for the Chicago Tribune. As a newspaper writer, he’s got a front row seat to observe all the corruption and crime, all the aspects of the dark underbelly of the city. He should have known better than to fall in love with Annie Walsh, since he knew perfectly well that her family was involved with organized crime. But he did fall in love with her, and when she gets murdered, he’s not about to let her go unavenged. And so begins a tale which interweaves Mamet’s vivid and hard-boiled characters with real life figures, including the legendary Al Capone.
If you’ve seen Mamet’s plays or movies, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from his novel: dense, quick moving dialogue, plots involving crosses and double crosses, and compromised characters. If you’re a fan of David Mamet, all you need to know is the name of his new book. If you’re interested in 1920’s Chicago, and you enjoy witty, hard-boiled dialogue that does most of the heavy lifting in telling the story, this is a don’t miss book for you, too.