Scott Simon's "Windy City" has all the elements for an entertaining political mystery/adventure novel. The characters are good, the settings are superbly described, the heart is there, the mystery of a murdered mayor is deftly handled, and the ending warms the heart. So why is the book so tedious to read? The problem is that Simon over-researched this book. While he might find it fascinating to describe the ethnic make up of all 50 wards that comprise the city, most readers do not. So much of the book is delegated to long passages describing alderman and their relationship with their ethnic constituents, to the point that the mystery of the murder is almost forgotten. Oddly, this mayor seems to be a Harold Washington type, although the actual Washington is mentioned as a past mayor. The Daleys (Richard J. and Richard M.) are also long gone. For some reason, Simon seems to feel that the era of the white male mayor are long gone, but gives no logical reason for stating this.
Acting mayor Sunny Roopini, of Indian extraction,is an engaging character and the book brightens when he's front and center. It's a pity that he doesn't do more to get to the bottom of the mystery. Instead, the book flits around strange, unresolved events such as a suicide of a mayoral top aide and an alderwoman's weepy confession of an impolitic love affair in the past. These and many other plot points make the novel wobble perilously off course before coming to its logical and long-in-coming conclusion.
A judicious editor could have done quite a bit in trimming the unneeded miscellaneous information and tightened the plot. A four-star book is lurking here, too bad it's hiding under a pile of random facts.