In 1972, college student Michael Pollitz becomes a victim of the political machine and of his own upbringing. A minor encounter leads to a harrowing summer and wishes a wish for vengeance that is mysteriously granted.
John K. Manos’ Dialogues of a Crime follows the events of that summer to 1994 Chicago, where a convict on his last strike knows the details of two unusual unsolved murders and points the finger at Outfit don Dominick Calabria for the crime. Loner detective Larry Klinger traces the limited clues back to the Astoria Adult Correctional Facility and begins to uncover a story buried by its characters for more than 20 years.
The state attempts to build a case against the aging Calabria while Klinger’s investigation draws him into an uneasy camaraderie with Michael, to the chagrin of the state prosecutor who has made this case the Holy Grail of his career. Along the way Michael is forced to relive horrific memories, Calabria’s associates to question Michael’s loyalty, and the reader to question – what really happened? It’s the central question of the novel, made more intriguing by the absence of a clear answer.
A well-paced narrative and complex relationships elevate Dialogues of a Crime beyond a simple crime novel. The basic whodunit plot is a realistic if not wholly original one, but it is the perfect showcase. Dialogues is a novel of human relationships, family and loyalty and how actions and promises stay with us across the years. Short chapters make the reading itself fly by.
The closing two chapters, set in 2003, tease at a definitive conclusion that they do not provide. Instead, Manos leaves it to the reader to choose one of several plausible explanations presented throughout the story. Is calm, collected Michael capable of murder? Was it a labor of love ordered by a man who saw Michael as another son? Or did someone else take it upon themselves himself to act on idle words? I have my guess, but I leave it to you to read for yourself and decide.
Dialogues of a Crime is a fantastic novel that explores the depths of human emotion while wrapping up the reader in a thrilling Mafia mystery. Readers across genres will appreciate this book, so I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone.
Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, son, and two cats. When she isn’t reading, getting paid to play on social media, or running her own business she enjoys playing with her baby and cooking.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by John K. Manos. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.