More Tomasewski

More Tomasewski; Del Staeker: Musa Publishing; Colorado Springs, CO; 2012; e-book, $3.99.

More T Cover            A series of stories involving Jake Thompson, aka Jan Tomasewski, More Tomasewski is great fun. Jake is good at catching crooks, bad at respecting authority. Which first got him exiled to the despised Administrative Investigations Unit (AIU) and eventually forced out of The Chicago Police Department. Now he subsists on a meager pension and sleeps in a Southside greasy spoon’s storage room. His fondness for Old Jimmy Jack, a mix of Old Granddad, Jim Beam, and Jack Daniels, adds to his problems. Besides which, the diner’s waitress, Earline is bent on corralling him into an unwanted relationship

On top of all of which, Lt. Mildred Foister, his former boss at AIU, calls him in for a sit-down one morning. She tells Jake that a clerical error involving his father’s having changed their family name from Tomasewski, has jeopardized Jake’s pension. Plus, officially, he’s no longer retired and needs to start showing up for work again at AUI. Oh, and by the way, he owes the city for the pension checks he’s received.

He returns to the diner, where his friend Dewey gives him some more news: Two days ago one of their boyhood pals disappeared after hitting a slot machine over in Indiana for four hundred thousand dollars. Very quickly Jake’s enmeshed in police department politics and the underside of Midwestern casinos–not to mention a murder frame up. The story takes him across the Southside and its near suburbs. These settings ring true, and the same goes for the tale’s characters. Who the plot whisks through increasing complex twists until it culminates in an understated bittersweet ending.

Next Jake gets mixed up with a Southside urban legend, Resurrection Mary. The story may or may not feature the supernatural–you decide–but definitely puts Jake through some intense changes. Good creepy fun. No sooner has Jake recovered from that than his one time partner in crime fighting, Eddie Moocha, aka The Duct Tape Vigilante, comes to Jake for help. Eddie has retired from his career as a low-budget Batman, but he’s facing legal trouble over his new undercover crime-fighting project.

On Eddie’s behalf, Jake goes to a Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff at the Cook County DA’s office. The Deputy Assistant agrees to help Eddie if: If Jake can solve two tough semi-cold cases for her. The first centers on internet blackmail and the second on the murder of the owner of a string of Southside pizza parlors. Both generate plot twists in spades, encounters with shady individuals, and trips into Chicago’s dark side.

Interspersed with all these tales are several shorter pieces that change the pace and reveal surprising aspects of various characters. Although the book’s narratives also vary in in tone and style, they do work together to form a larger whole. The Chicago settings are one unifying thread, as are recurring characters, as is Jake’s propensity for helping a friend.

But even more, the consistency of Jake’s voice as narrator unites the stories. It’s the wise-ass voice of a guy who cares about injustice more than laws, hates seeing a friend shafted, and thinks of those traits as major character flaws. The voice was my favorite part of More Tomasewski. Which is saying a lot because I enjoyed its characters, settings, and plots big-time.

 

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About kentmcdanielwrites

Writer and musician.

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