SHOOTERS AND CHASERS Redux – A Book by Lenny Kleinfeld

A year after reading SHOOTERS AND CHASERS, I still laugh whenever I think of the book.  When the book was published, Leighton Gage, a true gentleman and a great supporter of his fellow writers, made it his goal to bring SHOOTERS AND CHASERS to the attention of  as many readers as he could.  Since reading the book, I have tried to do the same.

A review of the book doesn’t begin to do it justice.  It is a noir, if noir can be funny, police precedural.  What sets the book apart is the absurdity of the circumstances, the characters, and the prose, such a stuffy term to describe the use of words so cleverly that, if laughter prolongs life, Lenny has added more than twenty years to mine.  

Do not read this book in public.  People may confuse laughing so hard you can’t breathe with an emergency requiring EMTs.  My kids thought I was choking.  Once started, the book can’t be put down until it is finished.  The only thing that prevents SHOOTERS & Chasers from qualifying as a fast read is that the eyes will water so much from the aforementioned laughter that breaks are required.

SHOOTERS & Chasers is not a Fourth of July holiday book but  it is quintessentially American.  It is a story about upward mobility defined in a myriad of ways.

SHOOTERS & CHASERS by Lenny Kleinfeld has everything one would want in a thriller. The shooters are (sort of) identified right at the beginning. The chasers, Chicago Homicide detectives Mark Bergman and John Dunegan enter the scene soon after. The shooters are sociopaths and the chasers are the kind of characters that I want to meet again.

The book opens in August, 2002 with Meelo Garcia prowling restlessly in a motel room. He can’t leave because Oscar told him he can’t.

In the second chapter, Naguib Darwahab, a Chicago cabbie originally from Cairo, picks up famed architect Wilson Willets. As Willets is walking toward his house, he is killed by a mugger. Darwahab risks his life by scratching the mugger down his left arm but the murderer runs off and there is nothing that can be done to help Willets.

From that point the books takes off, introducing a cast of characters that is large but who are so distinct that the reader has no problem keeping everyone straight. The plot moves from street crime to the very richest of the rich in Los Angeles and a contest sponsored by the Los Angeles Fine Arts Museum. Along the way there are other murders, a mysterious Englishman, assassins, a public defender who suggests that the murder has elements of the Kennedy assassination,  Oscar, and two police forces, Chicago and Los Angeles, that are not made to look crooked or inept. And…the book is funny. Kleinfeld writes wonderful dialogue even when the dialogue is interior. I don’t know how many times I had to stop reading and laugh.

This is a book that will appeal to just about anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers. This is an author who deserves a wide readership. SHOOTER & CHASERS is a wonderful way to spend a day.

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5 Responses to SHOOTERS AND CHASERS Redux – A Book by Lenny Kleinfeld

  1. jennymilch says:

    SHOOTERS & CHASERS also has the single best cover I’ve seen on a book. It not only made me buy it, but compelled me to reach out and write to author Lenny Kleinfeld even before I’d read it. What a package–thanks for the review.

  2. RuthAnn says:

    I loved this book! Glad to see you reviewing it and hope others will read it too.

  3. Beth says:

    I think this is the third time I have posted the review because I have not come across anything else that is a full and complete mystery that is also so masterfully funny. Many authors are geniuses at creating interesting and compelling characters but it would be difficult to come across a crowd as incompetently crazy as these.

    If it is available on Netflix (I have never used it so I don’t know how far back their list goes), there is a movie that came out in the 70’s called THE GANG THAT COULDN’T SHOOT STRAIGHT. The film is based on a book of the same name by columnist Jimmy Breslin that is a very funny interpretation of life among the ranks of the soldiers of the Mafia. It is the only thing that comes close to Lenny.

  4. RuthAnn–
    Thank you.

    Beth–

    Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

    Jenny–

    So glad you like the cover, and I have passed your compliments along to my friend Kevin Kelley, who came up with the concept.

    However, considering how long you have owned a copy of the book, if you do not soon begin to read the printed part, all that black & white stuff behind the cover, that part with all those carefully arranged English words strung out over hundreds of pages, one of my 300-pound friends from Chicago will turn up at your door and announce he is there to confiscate your copy of Shooters. For the love of God, and your kneecaps, do not argue with him.

    –Lenny

  5. Beth says:

    Jenny – When you read the book you will know that Lenny isn’t kidding. His characters are so real that one has to wonder what is owed to his imagination and what is owed to the guys who sit outside his house in a black car with opaque windows.

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