If memory serves, the first time I ever rode in a taxi cab was in Chicago in the late 90s. At least that I can remember, or at least in a situation where I was in a strange place that I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. In all my years living in the Seattle area prior to that, I don’t think I ever rode in a cab. Since then I’ve been to Chicago several times, usually behind the wheel of a rental car, and I’ve gotten to know the city fairly well — at least in a broad, general sense. Which made one of the more recent offerings from Hard Case Crime, a novel called Nobody’s Angel, that much more fun to read. When the author would describe some of the routes, or neighborhoods, I actually knew what he was talking about. That gave it a familiarity to me that is sometimes lacking in other novel settings. This is the short little 4/5 star review I gave the book on my Goodreads page:
The latest from Hard Case Crime is a trip around Chicago via the culture of cab drivers. What I enjoyed most — beyond the stories I’ve read of Clark selling this originally self-published novel from his cab before HCC picked it up — is that it isn’t some bloody tale of vigilantism. The story comes to Eddie, our first-person narrator, almost in spite of himself, and that story is well told. It’s dark, atmospheric, and feels authentic in a way that only someone who really knows the world being written can portray it. I enjoyed the book very much.
My whole reason for bringing all this up, besides simply pointing out an excellent book that everyone should read, is that the author, Chicago cab driver Jack Clark, was recently interviewed about the book on NPR‘s Fresh Air program. It’s a great little discussion that you should check out. I downloaded the mp3 of the interview and gave it a listen; it’s a little over fifteen minutes long.
I think this is such a great story; a guy writes a book, shops it around, then self-publishes it and sells it out of his cab. Then it gets picked up by a publisher and is now getting some accolades. I really did enjoy the novel, and the circumstances around how Jack got it out to the public are inspiring. I hope the next time I go to Chicago and find myself in need of a cab, Jack somehow is the guy to give me a lift!