Dark Side of the Morgue Review
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Aging rockers of the Chicago progressive rock scene are winding up dead, and the police don’t seem to make the connection between the murders. Guitarist Zach Garriott, the most popular musician of the “Chicagoprog” movement, is frustrated, scared and, worst of all, fearful that he’s going to be next.

Since the Chicago police aren’t doing anything, Garriott calls Spike Berenger, an ex-musician in his early 50s who’s now a partner of New York’s “Rockin’ Security Team.” Maybe he can solve this before the next murder and put an end to the mayhem.

Though it means flying to Chicago, it doesn’t take much to convince Berenger to take the case. Not only was he a huge fan of Garriott in the late ‘60s through the ‘70s, but Zach sees a possible connection between the killings. Witnesses described a particular woman leaving the scene of one of the murders, and Garriott claims that he and other Chicagoprog musicians actually know who she is. The only problem is that she’s been dead for 35 years.

If you’re a knowledgeable rock fan who’s never heard of “Chicagoprog,” you’re not ignorant. It’s entirely fictional. However, Benson describes the rock sub-genres so convincingly, with references to actual incidences in rock history, that you’ll swear that most of it must have been factual. You may find it difficult to keep track of all of the Chicagoprog bands and their timelines, but don’t despair. Benson has provided a helpful “Family Tree” for your reference. You may even wonder why some details in the early chapters are even mentioned, but trust me, they’re relevant.

The second novel in the Spike Berenger Rock ‘n’ Roll series, Dark Side of the Morgue is quick and entertaining, but it’s neither deep nor intricate. Many elements aren’t even original. We’ve all read about PI vs. Police Dept., and, even in Chicago, Berenger manages to have an insider in the Chicago PD. Also, why don’t middle-aged PIs ever seem to get over their ex-wives? I admit, though, that it’s more of an observation than an annoyance, and the usual clichés can be overlooked by most readers.

That aside, Dark Side of the Morgue is a fast-paced thriller that will consistently tease and keep you hanging on at the end of each chapter. This is one that I couldn’t put down. And with these stressful times, sometimes that’s all I can handle.

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