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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put this book down.
Okay, I love mysteries. I took a chance on this one because I thought the title was cute, and I was not disappointed. The main character, Fee (I love her nickname), is tough, fair, and smart. But mostly I loved all of the exquisite details in the descriptions of the people and places West of Western. The images just stay with you. I found myself wondering what it would...
Published on March 19, 2012 by C.L. Phillips

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good first effort by a new author
Chicago Stories: West of Western is set in a neighborhood in flux and juxtaposes yuppies, artists, and illegal immigrants as they struggle to find a place to call home. The author shows us the impact of their class differences through the eyes of Seraphy, an up-scale architect, as she rehabs an old building she's purchased and comes to know the trials and tribulations of...
Published on January 18, 2012 by KSF


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put this book down., March 19, 2012
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This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
Okay, I love mysteries. I took a chance on this one because I thought the title was cute, and I was not disappointed. The main character, Fee (I love her nickname), is tough, fair, and smart. But mostly I loved all of the exquisite details in the descriptions of the people and places West of Western. The images just stay with you. I found myself wondering what it would be like to be in Fee's shoes, trying to make a new life for herself after so many challenges. And how can you not love a character that makes a great latte for everyone that stops by? I could smell the coffee.

This is a fast, fun, exciting read. The clues are all there for you to find, but I was surprised at the end, so it was doubly fun. Can't wait to read more of Seraphy's adventures.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good first effort by a new author, January 18, 2012
This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
Chicago Stories: West of Western is set in a neighborhood in flux and juxtaposes yuppies, artists, and illegal immigrants as they struggle to find a place to call home. The author shows us the impact of their class differences through the eyes of Seraphy, an up-scale architect, as she rehabs an old building she's purchased and comes to know the trials and tribulations of her neighbors. Among those trials is a murderer who stalks the night killing gang members.

The inhabitants of the neighborhood are rich and varied, and Seraphy is a likeable protagonist. Unfortunately, she's also a relatively passive protragonist and serves mostly to be the reader's eyes and ears into the setting and plot without really driving the story through her actions and decisions. This gives a sense of remove to the story events and dampens the tension. But despite this, the mystery rolls right along.

The book is a comfortable read. It's been carefully formatted, and the first half the book has very few copy edit errors. The second half has a few more, but on the whole, the manuscript has a professional presentation, unlike so many of the $.99 or free manuscripts out there.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Debut, Anxious for More!, June 15, 2012
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Polly "Polly Iyer" (Spartanburg, SC, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this book on so many levels. First, that Ms. Hamer resists the prevailing pressure for crime writers to slap a dead body in the first chapter or, even worse, to have the hero or heroine trip over a corpse on the first page, made me sigh with relief. Architect Seraphy Pelligrini, an ex-Marine and undercover Darkpool agent, injured in Iraq by an IED, finds the perfect building to set up her workshop and living quarters. Her real estate agent tries to dissuade her because the building, an abandoned mess but with "good bones," is also West of Western, an area rampant with competing gangs spewing violence on an almost daily basis. But Seraphy is a fearless protagonist, and she treads where others fear to go. She's not foolhardy in her bravery, but when needed, she holds her own with the worst of the criminals. The book is filled with a cast of interesting characters, all of whom Ms. Hamer takes the time to develop so that we learn to care about each one. I personally found one of the gang leaders fascinating, and I hope he's in the following books. A good character is a terrible thing to waste. But he's not the only one.

The story builds tension in a realistic manner--nothing forced, but you sense there's going to be an explosive conclusion, and Ms. Hamer doesn't disappoint. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the sequel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, July 15, 2013
This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
I bought this a few months ago and have just gotten round to reading. What a treat! A truly likeable heroine (Seraphy) and truly believable and 3d characters. I just wanted to read and read. This far exceeds the usual fare of writing. Intelligent and likeable. Eileen should be better known as people are missing out on a great writer
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to stop reading this book!, February 2, 2013
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Saved (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
I bought Chicago Stories: West of Western because, well, I'm a Chicagoan and I haven't read many novels that take place in my city. Thinking that the cover was really good and the title cool, I opened the book and began reading and was astonished at the strong, remarkably original voice of the author which throughout the story did not wane. Not sure if the author has Italian roots, but she understands Chicago and its architecture and painting and Italian families and grief, and I love her line about the family's matriarch who had been enjoying "the brink of death" for a long time (my poor paraphrase, you'll have to read the book to get the full punch.) So I couldn't stop reading. It's a thriller and a mystery and a love story in its own right. The pace is fast, the characters full of flesh and blood and, I don't know, the book just spoke to me, especially Seraphy and her family, the friends she meets after she buys a building to rehab west of Western Avenue. Loved Richard and his lover, Emily and Black Jack. Some of the scenes and the dialogue were memorable, for instance, the dialogue between the main character and her mother. And I really liked the way the story began, almost as a prequel, such a great way to introduce the main character--pit her against everyone's real estate agent--and the end was a real surprise for me, didn't see it coming. But what's not to love about this book--cheaper than a latté, but delivers a much stronger punch. The sense of place was remarkable, the mood shifting from humorous to elegiac to tragic and the building Seraphy buys almost becomes another character. Sorry, can't think of anything bad to say about this book. I'm going to sit for a while in a quiet place and try to recover from the words and then buy Eileen Hamer's next one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, tragic, and ultimately satisfying, January 5, 2014
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This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself. Lao Tzu

Suddenly, to everyone's horror, the tomb of his grandfather opens and a hand grabs Don Carlo's shoulder, pulling him back into the tomb. – Verdi’s Don Carlo

As I was reading Chicago Stories: West of Western I was brought to mind of a modern day opera, a tragedy, lived across the streets of the west side of Chicago. Blood and war, incest, murder, hatred, fear - all the themes are there, richly portrayed. The brutality of poverty reaches out and grips the reader by the throat, and yet, the layers of the story are not just those of poverty and gangs. They are so much deeper. As Richard, one of the characters in the book puts it, “Someone recently called this kind of wanton destruction a failure of imagination.” And, as Graham Greene said in “The Power and the Glory,” Hatred is a failure of imagination.

There is no failure of imagination in Hamer’s writing. Rather, she writes brilliantly about a neighborhood, and the people within it. What she writes about, however, is the deep and abiding failure of imagination of the gangs that roam the streets of the neighborhood, sowing devastation in their wake. These people live in small worlds, with no comprehension of what a wide world there truly is out there – what there actually is which may be accomplished, should one simply reach out, stretch the imagination beyond a few small blocks. Purposeful ignorance, and the temptations of power, if only in small and violent ways, taking the lives of those who both do, and do not, deserve to die.

Seraphy has moved into this neighborhood, on the border of two gang territories, purchasing a beautiful but run down building to live and work in as an architect. She fixes up the building and moves in, only to be faced with murders, gang warfare, and threats all around her. But there are also good people – her neighbors around the corner are two wonderful gay male characters I immediately fell in love with, as does she. There are artists and singers, legal and illegal immigrants, the wonderful fellow who owns the corner market, and the crazy nun next door. And there are the gangs, those dredges of humanity so soulless and evil that they would feed upon their own people, like jackals upon a corpse.

This book was vibrant and violent, deeply moving and deeply disturbing on many levels. The stories it has to tell are a microcosm of America, where we have been, where we are going, and how it can all go so very, very wrong. It is mystery and suspense, thriller and literary novel, pain and redemption and absolutely riveting.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, August 26, 2014
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This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
This was one of those books I picked up for free, and quite truthfully I didn't have great expectations. The book started off a little rough and slow, but as it gradually drew me in it started moving and smoothed out. Nice character development, with surprising twists and turns and a satisfying ending. There were a couple of "mistakes" such as dates going out of order, but nothing that can't be figured out. For that it gets only 4 stars. Looking forward to seeing what this author does next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an engaging group of characters and an interesting setting, June 8, 2014
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This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
Seraphy is a complex individual who, happily, we get to know quite well. She chooses a great home in a complicated neighborhood. Her friends are compelling and we sit down for a delicious interlude with them. .the crazy ex nun is quite the character but the solution to the mystery falls just a little short. All in all, a fun read. You would love to sit down, share a latte with them, and find out what happens next in their lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars West of Western, April 5, 2014
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This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed the book; could hardly put it down! I liked the main character and her friends and the concentration on arts and where they are made. As an educator I have worked with gang members and was interested in how that was handled by the author!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable to read, March 3, 2014
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This review is from: Chicago Stories: West of Western (Kindle Edition)
Having lived near that area and rode those street's in cars and biked during the day to shop at ethnic shops made It enjoyable
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