On May 4, 2016, Chicago Jazz will go live as an ebook. This is the second in what I hope will be a long and exciting series featuring Detective Anthony (Tony) Alfano and his sergeant, McDunnah. These noir novels take place in Chicago during the 1933/1934 era of the Chicago Century of Progress World’s Fair. I will try through these quasi-police procedurals to give you the fear, hopelessness, ennui, and desperation that most faced three years into the Great Depression. Prohibition damaged America immeasurably through the twenties and into the early nineteen thirties, it ended at the end of 1933. The effects stayed for decades. For America and the world these were trying times. FDR was just elected and Hitler seized the government of Germany.
The Century of Progress World’s Fair was a successful attempt by the business interests of Chicago (and the immediate region) to put on a show highlighting the accomplishments and hope for the future of the world in industry, the arts, and culture. Intended to run for only the summer of 1933, it was so successful that they reopened (and expanded) the fair for one more year in 1934. Tens of thousands of Chicagoans and people new to the city were employed by the fair; even more were employed servicing the visitors at restaurants, hotels, and transportation (and an unknown number offering “other” services as well). The federal government even lowered the liquor restrictions so that the fair could serve beer and wine. For me, the opportunities and story lines are endless for a series starring Tony Alfano.
In 1933, the notorious age of the Mafia, gangs, the Mob, the Outfit – pick your favorite, was almost over. Capone went to federal prison in 1932. The twenties roared, illegal boozed flowed, and the new medium, movies, caught it all—especially the gangster movies. The world had a much different view of Chicago than its own residents. It was hoped that the fair would help to turn that infamous image around.
But the city was corrupt and politically in chaos. Anton Cermak, its mayor at the start of 1933 and leader of a tough political machine, would not last through February. He would die by an assassin’s bullet in Florida. A bullet intended for the newly elected president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The new mayor, Edward Kelly, placed there by statewide shenanigans run by the Irish political machine that rose to fill the vacuum, changed Chicago politics for the rest of the century and into the next.
The Savoia-Marchetti S-55 Seaplane -
24 flew to Chicago and landed on Lake Michigan
This is where Tony Alfano finds himself, maybe the last honest cop in Chicago, desperate to hold onto his job, an Italian in a police force that seems to be Irish to the heart, and alone. Some days even he wonders what the hell he is doing.
Video of Italo Balbo's fight to America and Chicago - Summer 1933
Chicago Jazz starts two weeks after the conclusion the Chicago Swing, the first book in the Alfano series. The city is waiting for the most exciting event, so far, for the fair; the arrival of Benito Mussolini’s squadron of seaplanes. Commanded by Italo Balbo, these 24 seaplanes would fly from Italy, to Iceland, then Nova Scotia, and to Chicago. At each step reinforcing Mussolini’s fascist image and Italy’s credentials as the leading aircraft designer in the world. But an assassin and saboteurs lurk in the hot summer streets of Chicago, a serial killer who seems to only target Italians. The saboteurs, all Italians, are men who desperately want to stop Balbo and his planes. The mayor demands only one thing of Alfano – find them and stop them.
Chicago Jazz is available for pre-order through 4-3-16 and immediate delivery thereafter. Only Kindle ebooks are currently available, the paperback version will be available in late August.
More Later . . . . . . . .