Saturday, March 22, 2014


I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading about Jimmy Flannery.

The Flannery books are funny and violent.

In Robert Campbell's Thinning the Turkey Herd (1988) a serial killer is at work. He has killed three beautiful women models in Chicago. Someone is 'thinning the turkey herd.'

Flannery agrees to help when Janet Canarias, a Chicago city alderwoman, asks him to find her missing friend. Canarias is a “lipstick lesbian,” Flannery's description. Her friend was about to move in with her.

Flannery investigates in his usual way. He trades favors with powerful people, finds some of them involved, and meets all kinds of characters.

Among the characters is Willy Dink the rat catcher. Dink uses a menagerie of animals (including a ferret, snake, and raccoon) to rid rat-infested buildings of their vermin.

Animal control seizes Dink's animals. Flannery and Dink break them out of jail. And along the way Flannery takes on a permanent friend—a dog he names Alfie. Flannery saves Alfie from euthanasia.

Flannery, as always, loves his wife, is loyal to his patron, and does his job as sewer inspector (though there's not much to the job). He is a Chicago pol through and through.

These books are humorous and real. They probably accurately reflect the sexism and stilted attitudes of Jimmy and his cohorts in 1988.

One book in the series, The Junkyard Dog, won the Edgar.

I used to look forward to each new Jimmy Flannery book. It was a joy to read this one again.


I don't think there's anyplace in the world but Chicago where a candidate in the primaries would stand up and accuse an incumbent of being helpless in the face of God.
--Flannery describing an aspiring mayoral candidate criticizing the mayor for not stoppping a flood.

“I don't get shocked. The only people what get shocked are the ones who expect other people to live up to their ideas about what is right. I just look at what's what without making up my mind about what it is supposed to be ahead of time. If it hurts somebody else, it's bad. If it don't hurt anybody, it's even. If it does some good... . I let it drift off.”
--Flannery describing his attitude toward private sexual choices.

Note: Earlier I wrote a few comments about the Flannery books here. I found this book and one other Jimmy Flannery among the paperbacks at my local used book store.


George said...

I'm a huge fan of Robert Campbell's work. THINNING THE TURKEY HERD is good, but I prefer the LA-LA LAND series.

Richard said...

It's been a long time since I've read a book by Robert Campbell, and you've whetted my desire to go to the shelf and take one down now. Thanks, Joe, good one.

Joe Barone said...

George and Richard, I knew there were probably several Robert Campbell fans out there. I happened to stumble on an old paperback copy of THINNING THE TURKEY HERD. That's why I decided to read it at this time.