Leo Pilsen is in the Outfit, Chicago’s mob, but he has been friends with Danny Manley, a lieutenant with the Chicago PD since childhood. When Pilsen’s 18 year old daughter is arrested, Manley sees an opportunity. As Pilsen’s friend, he promises to do all he can to help the fmaily. As a cop, he sees this as a perfect opportunity to take down some mobsters, including Grank Carpenter, one of the six commissioners who governs the Outfit.

“Turning Leo” by Clark Howard tells how Manley takes one girl’s mistake and uses it to turn Leo’s life upside down, forcing him to become an informant. Manley and all his cohorts get accolades and promotions; Leo and his family have to start over with new identities in a new city. I liked the intricacies involved in presenting the case in a way that makes Leo think he has not option, but I couldn’t have done without the few glimpses into Manley’s social life. I don’t care that he feels the need to ask out any attractive woman he meets, or for that matter that he ends up dating the doctor. It just didn’t matter in the story and I don’t think it really shed any extra light on Manley’s character. For me, in a short story everything should matter. In a longer work, I expect more layers, even some tangets, but I want short stories to be tight. Maybe it’s just me.

I guess I might have been living under a rock to not have heard of Clark Howard before. In addition to his short stories, he’s written 16 novels and 6 non-fiction books. One of his novels was adapted to a film and one of his non-fiction books was a made for TV movie. Although this story was enjoyable, I won’t be going out of my way to read other things by him.

6,825 words
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine May 2011

3 out of 5 stars

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