****The second Jonah Geller mystery has the action divided between Toronto and Chicago. In the series Shrier has established a pattern splitting each book’s location between Toronto and an American city.
Geller and Jenn Rendsepp are the struggling partners in the investigative agency called World Repairs. (Geller insisted on the name drawing on his Jewish heritage from “tikkun olam, the Jewis concept of repairing the world, making it a better place wherever you can.”)
Geller’s brother, Daniel, has referred the grieving Marilyn Cantor to the agency. She is heartbroken over her daughter, Maya, dying from a fall from her apartment. The police and coroner have concluded it was suicide. Marilyn has to know what happened to cause the fall.
As the investigation begins Geller re-establishes contact with Daunte Ryan, the former contract killer Geller had helped escape the killing profession. Now an Italian restauranteur Ryan is happy to provide with good food and other assistance.
Katherine Hollinger, a Toronto homicide detective, invites Geller out for supper. When she suggests Italian, he replies:
“Of course I do,” I said. “Scratch a Jew, find an Italian. Except on Sunday evenings, when we all convert to Chinese.”
As Geller looks into Maya’s life he meets her father, Rob Cantor, a developer with a new trophy wife who replaced Marilyn. Cantor is coping with the multitude of issues involved in constructing a huge new building complex on the Toronto harbor front. There are some expensive problems and his partner Chicago billionaire, Simon Birk, is not known for his patience.
Bodies start dropping and the answers are in Chicago. Geller, lacking any specific means of examining Birk’s businesses, resorts to the Spenser approach of deliberately goading Birk. Geller, trained in the Israeli army in the self-defence techniques of krav magna is ready to deal with the consequences.
Geller is unlike any American hard boiled detective I have read. He does not carry a gun. Maybe there is a developing sub-genre of unarmed Canadian hard boiled detectives. Jill Edmondson’s Toronto sleuth, Sasha Jackson, also travels the streets unarmed.
Canada is certainly changing in who can be a sleuth’s assistant. Not only is Jenn a woman she is a proudly out lesbian. I am not sure if America is ready for a tough guy’s sidekick to be gay.
In the first book, Buffalo Jump, I found the level of violence a concern. I have the same issue with this book. I am finding myself less interested in reading hard boiled detectives because of the amount of blood. I like Jonah as a character. He is multi-dimensional. He has natural wit. He is clever. I wish he had a solution to mysteries that was less graphically violent. I was ambivalent about reading this book because of the violence quotient in Buffalo Jump. I may change my mind if I want to learn more about Geller but I doubt I will
****High Chicago will be the 10th book I have read in the 6th Canadian Book Challenge. I need to read 3 more to reach the 13 books to be read in the Challenge.