Reviews by L. J. Roberts

JACK FREDRICKSON – The Dead Caller from Chicago. St.Martin’s Minotaur Books, hardcover, April 2013.

Genre:  Mystery. Leading character:   Dek Elstrom, 4th in series. Setting:  Chicago.


First Sentence:   It was March, well past midnight, and it was cold.

   Free-lance investigator Dek Elstrom is still trying to fight his local city hall to regain zoning rights to the tower — no castle, just a tower — in which he lives, but strange things start occurring. A large hole is dug for a new McMansion in a block of bungalows, a phone call from someone thought to be dead, and Dek’s best friend and loved ones suddenly disappearing. Dek is on the trail of answers and trying to stay alive.

   I have two admissions from the very start; 1) I have loved this series but, 2) this is not my favorite book of the series.

   Among Fredrickson’s strengths is his ability to create a vivid atmosphere from the very beginning. He has a great eye for detail and conveys it in a way that you are part of the scene. You feel the cold, you experience the turbulence of the boat ride and the
driving rain; the tension becomes real and the atmosphere, threatening.

   He also has an excellent ear for dialogue, whether in the narrative or between characters. It’s clear, it has the right edge to it and just enough dry humor.

   The main characters are impossible to resist; Dek, who is trying hard to rebuild his life and his wonderful brilliant, completely devoid of any fashion-sense friend Leo are
interesting and people about whom you want to know more. A few characters, however, feel as though they have become a bit of a joke that has gone on too long.

   The weakest element, I felt, was actually the plot. It seemed we didn’t really knowwhat was going on until nearly half-way through the story. Sometimes, this can work. In this case, it was only the question of Leo and an act of faith that draws you on.

   The Dead Caller From Chicago is still a good read. If anything, I feel my frustration is in feeling that Mr. Fredrickson is capable of doing so much more. I’m waiting….

Rating:   Good.

       The Dek Ekstrom mysteries —

1. A Safe Place for Dying (2006)


2. Honestly Dearest, You’re Dead (2008)
3. Hunting Sweetie Rose (2012)
4. The Dead Caller of Chicago (2013)