The city of Chicago has spent much time and money over the last decade marketing itself as a tourist-friendly place for the whole family. It’s got a shiny new Millennium Park, a spaceship in the middle of Soldier Field, and thousands of identical faux-brick condo buildings that seem to spring from the ground overnight. Chicago’s rough-and-tumble tough-guy reputation has been replaced by a postcard with a lake view.
But that city’s not gone. The hard-bitten streets once represented by James Farrell and Nelson Algren may have shifted locales, and they may be populated by different ethnicities, but Chicago is still a place where people struggle to survive and where, for many, crime is the only means for their survival. The stories in Chicago Noir reclaim that territory.
Chicago Noir, edited by Neal Pollack, is populated by hired killers and jazzmen, drunks and dreamers, corrupt cops and ticket scalpers and junkies. It’s the Chicago that the Department of Tourism doesn’t want you to see, a place where hard cases face their sad fates, and pay for their sins in blood. These are stories about blocks that visitors are afraid to walk. They tell of a Chicago beyond Oprah, Michael Jordan, and deep-dish pizza. This isn’t someone’s dream of Chicago. It’s not even a nightmare. It’s just the real city, unfiltered. Chicago Noir.