Thursday, July 27, 2017

Chandler: Circle City Frame by Bill Craig

Indianapolis, Indiana. Arnie Grossman groaned as he opened his eyes. His head was killing him. It felt like somebody was using it to split firewood with a dull ax. He rolled out of his bed and barely made it to the bathroom before throwing up. He emptied his stomach into the toilet. After three minutes, he wiped his mouth with toilet paper and tossed it into the bowl before finding the flush handle and depressing it. The water swirled and took the mess down the drain before refilling. 
Arnie felt like he had been sucker-punched by Mike Tyson. He could barely remain upright as he made his way out of the bedroom. He turned on the lights in the living room. He froze as the lights came up. A woman lay on the floor in a pool of blood.
She looked familiar. She was young, barely out of her teens from the look of her. She had shoulder-length brown hair, pale brown skin, wide brown eyes stared lifelessly from her face. She had been well put together and he remembered she exuded a sensual aura of compact sexuality. 
Her name was Tiffany; at least that was the name she had given him down in the bar earlier in the evening. His stomach heaved, even though there was nothing left inside it. 
Arnie stumbled back into the bedroom and dug his cell phone out of his pocket. What was that private eye’s name? Oh yeah, Chandler. Arnie scrolled through his contacts until he found the number. He pressed call. It rang twice before a male voice answered.
“Mr. Chandler? This is Arnie Grossman. We met at that thing for the Indianapolis Stallions? I need your help and I need it right now,” Arnie said. 
“Where are you, Mr. Grossman?” Chandler asked. Grossman gave him his address. It was up in Fishers.
“Give me about forty-five minutes, Mr. Grossman. Maybe less depending on traffic.” Chandler hung up and Grossman laid his phone back on the nightstand next to the bed. 
Arnie slipped his feet into his loafers. Forty-five minutes with the dead girl in his living room was going to seem like an eternity. He headed for the kitchen to make coffee. 
~ ~ ~ 
“What was that all about?” Mary Norman, his lover and secretary asked, sitting up in the bed they shared. The covers slipped off to reveal two perfect breasts. Chandler had already pulled on pants and shoes and was pulling a black T-shirt over his head. “It sounds like a new case,” Phillip Chandler replied. He was around six feet tall and slender with short dark hair and blue eyes. There was a scar next to his left eye, a souvenir from his days as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He walked over to the dresser and slipped on his shoulder holster that held his Colt Commander .45 with finger-grooved Hogue grips and tritium three dot night sights. There were two spare magazines under the off side of the holster. 
“Does this new case have a name?” Mary asked as she threw off the covers and found her fluffy blue terrycloth housecoat. She pulled it around her tiny frame and tied the belt. Barefoot, she opened the bedroom door and Simba, the yellow tabby that had adopted Chandler, padded inside and rubbed against her legs purring loudly. Mary knelt and stroked his head, making him purr louder. 
“Men,” she smiled as she stood and headed for the kitchen to start coffee. Chandler had snagged his brown leather bomber jacket from the closet on the way out of the bedroom. “You weren’t complaining earlier as I recall,” he grinned at her. “That was before I got woke up by a ringing telephone,” Mary told him. 
“Touché,” he replied.
“So, does this new client have a name?” 
“He does. His name is Arnie, nee Arnold Grossman. He’s a businessman and philanthropist whose name had been in the Indianapolis Star a lot lately. While I go meet with him, why don’t you see what you can dig up on him on-line?” Chandler suggested. He grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and headed for the door to the garage. 
“Will do,” Mary called after him before the door into the garage closed. Mary started the coffee and then headed for the living room and the laptop that she carried back and forth from the office. She had come a long way from her days as a dancer at the Red Garter where she had worked under the name of Mary Blue. 
That was how she and Chandler had met. She had hired him to find a friend, another dancer that had disappeared after going to work a private party.

Starting a new book begins the adventure. Will it be totally new or will it provoke memories of a similar book? I was very pleasantly surprised when I started putting together the characters and the dialogue...and thought of my favorite author, Robert B. Parker, now deceased... I have no idea whether the author intended it, but, if he did, he certainly picked a writer/role model worthy of emulation... The main difference I saw was that the story and the dialogue was more street and contemporary. But there was the snappy crisp dialogue among the three main characters that brought a smile as we see the characters interact...

Chandler is the main character in the series. This is the third book, just out. I would have preferred to read the first two books, but the author provided sufficient flashback material to make the book easily free standing...

Chandler's client is Arnie Grossman, a local businessman and philanthropist, who has begun a building project to provide community centers for young people to get involved with sports and other activities rather than joining gangs... The key issue that each has been built in high crime areas--of course this is where they should be to do what they are meant to do. However, some would prefer to keep the kids in gangs and working for them in drug sales and more...

The criminal's plan--kill a young woman and put her in Arnie's room... It might have even worked if Arnie had not been sharp enough, when he woke up from a drugged sleep, to call for help from Chandler! And, wow, does he take over! Soon he has a lawyer for Arnie, gathers sufficient information to start his own investigation...and, of course, calls the police in.  Actually there is mutual respect if not total cooperation between Chandler and the assigned officer, but their interaction does add considerable support to what it happening and keeping readers current...

For me, this book was character driven and there are a number of interesting one to follow--even one of the villains proved to have a role with managing the gangs in his area. Of course, Chandler's methods of gaining his attention was unorthodox enough to cause offense initially, but was willing to later negotiate when it was important to both of them. 

Chandler is gutsy, confident and experienced to deal with just about any job he now takes as a PI...His background has prepared him, and while he takes swift action when needed, his moral fiber comes through to make him an exciting series main character.

Mary, Chandler's lover and now secretary also is a confident woman who readers will easily see has that full confidence from feeling safe with Chandler. Her past has been rough and she's willing to participate in any way needed but when it gets too dangerous Chandler and even his sometimes partner, Johnny Quick, will work to ensure she's kept from harm in a safe place...

Johnny Quick's character most aligns with Hawk from the Spenser series. I loved Avery Brooks in the series (and later in Star Trek) and could quickly see Johnny Quick being also played by Brooks. He can be so scary when he faces the villains but then we also see the soft side of him as he relates to his friends... Johnny Quick makes an excellent backup for Chandler when he needs help! 

Especially when the whole climatic action begins as the book comes toward the ending. These two men walk into danger, but even Johnny Quick questioned some of Chandler's decisions... even while being willing to walk alongside where Chandler led... Two Cool Dudes!

I thought the genre was more police procedure, so you know what is happening as the book moves forward. The action also moves it as a thriller when villains start going after villains and Chandler decides which group he's going to help... I thoroughly enjoyed the book and certainly recommend you check it out!


Bill Craig taught himself to read at age four and began writing his own stories at age six. He published his first novel at age 40 and says it only took him 34 years to become an overnight success! He has been publishing steadily ever since that first book Valley of Death and now has 80 books in print or ebook. Bill is the proud father of four children ranging in age from 38 to almost 8. He has 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Mr. Craig has worked a wide variety of jobs over the years from private security and corrections work to being a grill cook and dishwasher. He has been a news reporter, done factory work and even a stint as a railroad clerk. He currently does customer service work to support his writing addiction. His ultimate goal in life is to break the record held by pulp author and creator of The Shadow, Walter B. Gibson, for writing the most works in a single year!

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