"Cosmo Grande moves awkwardly, humanly, through Chicago, looking for clues and epiphany.
Grande, a fiftyish private investigator who drinks too much and smokes too much weed, is the central character created by my friend Dom Grassi for his first novel Death in Chicago: Winter.
It’s a murder mystery and is planned to be the first of four, the others taking Cosmo and the sort of skullduggery one enjoys in mysteries through spring, summer and fall.
You know, like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, only in this case the Italian isn’t writing music but trying to find his way around Chicago while endeavoring to figure out what’s going on — and avoid getting blown up or otherwise iced.
In Death in Chicago: Winter, Cosmo is trying to get to the bottom of a whole lot of messiness, including three suicides that might be murder, a dirty cop, a murdered tow-truck driver, a rogue bishop, a “retired” mob boss and a clandestine group of deacons trying to save the Catholic Church from its bad apples.
A rollicking tale
It’s a rollicking tale that pulls the reader along as Cosmo, a former seminarian, maneuvers through a hidden church scandal of wide-ranging financial sins while getting to know the daughter of his former lover Peggy Hackett.
In the opening pages, he comes face to face with the priest (now an ex-priest) who, long ago, bounced him out of the seminary for his use of pot — and who, a short time later, was bounced out of the priesthood himself when his liaison with a Barat College co-ed was discovered (hence, his ex-priest-ness).
There’s no love lost between Cosmo and Ed Waterman, but, at the end of a few drinks in St. Martin’s Inn on Broadway in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, Cosmo has agreed to take on Waterman as his client — a short-lived client, he soon finds out.
A love letter
What is clear in Death in Chicago: Winter is Cosmo’s affection for the Catholic Church, his knowledge of its inside workings (think sausage-making) and his love for Chicago. All that is certainly true as well for Grassi who opens, for the reader, a world of church politics that aren’t often on display and who fills every page of his novel with a feel for the warp and woof of the city.
In many ways, Grassi’s novel is a love letter to the city — its streets, its quirks, its restaurants and its churches."
-Patrick T Reardon