Chicago noir aficionados will love Dianne Gallagher’s debut novel, Too Dark to Sleep. The book’s heroine is Maggie Quinn, once the best crime detective in Chicago, before her nervous breakdown and suicide attempt, puts her out to pasture. Quinn’s expert crime solving abilities and her unorthodox approach in police work methods made her unpopular among many of the regulars in the Old Boys network of the Chicago Police Department who didn’t warm to the successes of a lady detective. Besides, Maggie’s father, Paddy, is a notorious operative for the Chicago Outfit, who, although imprisoned for life, still holds considerable political connections in the corridors of Chicago’s City Hall.
However the CPD is confronted with a serial killer, whose grisly murders are remaining unsolved, causing serious concern to the mayor who is soon to be up for reelection. Paddy arranges for the emotionally fragile, yet highly motivated Maggie, to be hired as a consultant to the Department to help solve the murders. Although beset by demons stemming from the immense personal loss of her only child, Maggie soldiers on, despite additional personal trials and tribulations, to expertly gather the evidence to ultimately identify and confront the killer.
Although the book is 381 pages, it is a fast read. I didn’t want to put it down. I was fascinated by Gallagher’s depictions of the subcultures of Chicago police detectives, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office and Stateville Penitentiary. It’s a world of clout-influenced decision making, where who you know, nine times out of ten, trumps what you know. After all, that’s the Chicago Way!