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Nobody's Angel (Hard Case Crime Novels) Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clark (Westerfield's Chain) originally self-published this slim, sparse, and heartbreaking novel, selling it to passengers in his Chicago taxicab, and apparently autobiographical elements add poignant realism at the cost of emotional resolution. Eddie Miles is shaken when fellow nighttime cabbie Lenny Smigelkowski falls victim to a serial killer. Eddie also discovers Relita, a teen prostitute brutally mutilated and abandoned in an alley. As Eddie mourns Lenny's death and Relita's pain and tries to find their assailants, he ponders other losses: his father's real estate investments; the innocence of young women entering prostitution; Eddie's daughter, now in his ex-wife's custody; and his faith in humanity as his fares try to abuse, intimidate, and rob him. Little gems of hope sparkle throughout the gloom, but the bleak conclusion of Eddie's long trip to nowhere leaves him and the reader mired in despair. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Eddie Miles is an old-school cab driver working the streets of Chicago in the mid-1990s. He’s a throwback to an earlier era of homegrown cabbies who knew every street and alley on their beats. Clark’s tale is really more of a mood piece than a crime novel. Yes, Eddie does turn amateur sleuth in an effort to determine who killed his best friend, Lenny, a fellow hack whose body was found in an alley near the notorious Cabrini-Green housing project, but the real focus isn’t so much on the wave of cabbie killings gripping the city as on the city itself. Eddie drives the streets at night like Harry Bosch in a Michael Connelly novel (or a less-crazed Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver) and comments on what he sees and hears, from obnoxious yuppie tourists on Rush Street through teenage prostitutes on West Side corners. The cynical, melancholy cabbie point of view is perfect for this kind of neon-lit, noir-tinged, saxophone-scored prose poem, and Clark hits all the right notes. Pair this with Donald Westlake’s Somebody Owes Me Money (2008), also about cabbies and crime. --Bill Ott

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Product Details

  • Series: Hard Case Crime Novels (Book 65)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company; Reissue edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843963271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843963274
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,159,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JACK CLARK's first novel WESTERFIELD'S CHAIN was a Shamus Award finalist. The Chicago Tribune called it "The best mystery of the month... A pure delight for many reasons, not the least of which is the way Jack Clark celebrates and rings a few changes on the familiar private eye script. . . There's a memorable moment [on] virtually every page."
Romantic Times said, "Jack Clark's descriptions are beautifully haunting and his plotting is exceptional." Two follow-up novels, HIGHWAY SIDE and DANCING ON GRAVES, also feature Chicago private detective Nick Acropolis.

NOBODY'S ANGEL introduces Chicago cabby Eddie Miles. The Washington Post called the novel "A gem," and "just about perfect...[without]a wasted word or a false note... Its real beauty lies in Eddie's bittersweet existence and the special romance and danger of the cabdriver's life."
Booklist wrote: "A fine atmospheric thriller. The cynical, melancholy cabbie point of view is perfect for this kind of neon-lit, noir-tinged, saxophone-scored prose poem, and Clark hits all the right notes."
The Chicago Sun-Times said: "Heartbreaking. . . Captivating. . . Clark's true subject [is] his city. Each page turn feels like real, authentic Chicago."

CLARK is also an award-winning journalist. HACK WRITING & OTHER STORIES, a collection of stories over a 25-year career, includes the Page One Award winner THE COOK COUNTY DEATH TRIP.

CLARK has also written two books with his mother Mary Jo Ryan Clark. ON THE HOME FRONT, an oral history, is a collection of her true stories from Prohibition through World War II. Studs Terkel said, "Jack Clark's wondrous celebration of his working-class mother and her natural gifts as a storyteller has touched me deeply. Hooray for Mary Jo Ryan Clark and her boy Jack." PRIVATE PATH is Mary Jo's desk calendar diaries from 1937 to 1943.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 13, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been reading the Hard Case Crime novels for several years now and "Nobody's Angel" exemplifies why. To be upfront and honest - this book is not the most intricately plotted or action packed, where it wins is in the details. If your looking for a page turning thriller look elsewhere. The author Clark drew from his own experiences as a cab driver and his love of the Windy City when writing this book and it shows. Clark's writing style and attention to detail bring the city at night alive with danger. The same strengths bring every character and situation in the book to life with realistic portrayals, sharp dialog and steady pacing. This story is about more than a few murders, it's about all of the dirty, evil things that take place after the sun sets. It's noir at it's finest.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 14, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
NOBODY'S ANGEL is a slender book with an amazing backstory. It was written in the 1990s by a Chicago cab driver, Jack Clark, who, instead of finding a publisher for it, had 500 copies of the little book printed himself and sold them to his passengers for $5 apiece.

How good could a self-published book by a cabbie be? The answer is simple: NOBODY'S ANGEL is a powerhouse of a book, a genuine work of noir and one of the best books of the year. Clark can write. His first professionally published book, WESTERFIELD'S CHAIN, was nominated for a Shamus Award in 2003. But alas, writing is a cruel, not just, business, as many of us painfully learn, and the author is still driving his Chicago hack to this day.

Clark contacted Charles Ardai, publisher of Hard Case Crime, and asked him to read NOBODY'S ANGEL. Ardai agreed out of the kindness of his heart and was immediately "blown away" by the book. So now it has been published professionally for the first time. I can't help but wonder how many of Clark's passengers who bought that book in the 1990s actually read it, and how many just purchased it out of the kindness of their hearts and then tossed it away without further thought. If they did, they made a mistake.

NOBODY'S ANGEL is narrated by Chicago cabbie Eddie Miles, who works the night shift, and is a journey into hell. One night he makes a wrong turn into a deserted alley to relieve himself and stumbles upon a serial killer in a van dumping out the body of a 16-year-old prostitute. His accidental turn saves the girl, as much as anybody can be saved in this nightmarish world. But there is also another serial killer working the streets of the Windy City, and this one is targeting cab drivers. Eddie's closest friend soon falls victim.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peterack VINE VOICE on August 22, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a pretty good hard boiled mystery novel,. The uniqueness is that the main character is, and author was at the time, a cabdriver in Chicago. Rather than just a straight on mystery, the reader enjoys a look behind the scenes through the eyes of a cabbie. This strength is also the book's weakness. There are a plethora of cab stories within this work, bulking up what it is a pretty basic "catch the killers" mystery, and said cab stories evenually get in the way. It is clear that the author felt this might be the only book he would write with this character so he (the author) had better get in each and every story he could.
Otherwise (or in addition to if this suits your fancy) the novel is a easy to pick up/put down and finish quick read. I recommend it as another good work from Hard Case Crime.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Connelly on December 5, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nobody's Angel goes well beyond the normal bounds of a crime/mystery/suspense novel. While there's crime, mystery, and suspense, they're intertwined with stories of the frenetic, stress-filled world of a working Chicago cabbie.

I always enjoy reading fiction from authors rich in real-world, first-hand experience, and this is an excellent example. The description of Eddie's on-the-road experience definitely has an autobiographical feel to it, enjoyable on its own independent of any greater plot. But this makes the story all the more plausible: events happen, rarely connected, but it's that uncertainty which adds excitement when they are. Sure, the primary plot could have been contained in a short story, but by entwining it in daily life, there's so much more time to experience its suspense and thrill.

A sub-text is racism and class prejudice. Those with a thin skin for racial stereotyping may want to give this one a pass.

I loved this book, and strongly recommend it to anyone even slightly curious about what it's like to drive a cab in a major US city. The "story" is added spice, tastefully applied.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. VINE VOICE on August 8, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This recent addition to the Hard Case Crime series is 85% atmosphere and only 15% plot. I say that not as a criticism but only to make potential readers aware that Nobody's Angel is only superficially a mystery novel. The substance of the book concerns itself with the largely less than uplifting experiences of an after hours cabdriver as he ekes out a living on the mean streets of Chicago.

Eddie Miles drives a cab in Chicago, the town he grew up in and knows so well. Nobody's Angel is jam packed with anecdotes and vignettes that serve to vividly depict what the life of an urban taxi driver is like. As an added bonus, dispersed throughout the pages of Nobody's Angel is a detailed tutorial on the geography of Chicago and the ever changing nature of its many neighborhoods.

The best thing about this book is Eddie Miles himself. He's just about the most average individual you will ever meet on the written page. Unlike most protagonists, there is nothing remarkable about him. He's not particularly brave or clever and he lacks ambition and self-esteem. An unusual choice on the part of author Jack Clark but one which makes Nobody's Angel stand out as a refreshing change of pace.
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