ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Before there was cabdriver-writer Dmitry Samarov, there was cabdriver-writer Jack Clark.
Clark started writing for the Reader in 1975 and “served a brief stint on the staff, during which he developed an aversion to deadlines,”Deanna Isaacs wrote in “A Cabbie’s Tale” in the Reader in July 2010.
From the driver’s seat of his cab, Eddie negotiates a city splintered by race and class and rapidly losing its economic underpinnings. Nobody’s Angel has the wry humour and engaging characters typical of the best of the hard-boiled genre, but Clark’s portrait of Chicago in the 1990s, with its vanishing factories and jobs, its lethal public housing projects, its teenage hookers climbing into vans on North Avenue, is what gives it legs. Sure there are a couple murderers on the loose, but the larger violence is coming from systemic forces wreaking havoc in a place that, maybe, used to be better.
I have read only a couple of the Hard Case Crime novels now and “Nobody’s Angel” exemplifies why. To be upfront and honest – this book is not the most intricately plotted or action packed, where it wins is in the details.It is definitely not a fast paced thriller, either. Clark’s writing style and attention to detail bring the city at night alive with danger. The same strengths bring every character and situation in the book to life with realistic portrayals, sharp dialog and steady pacing. This story is about more than a few murders, it’s about all of the dirty, evil things that take place after the sun sets. It’s noir at it’s finest.
It was written in the 1990s by a Chicago cab driver, Jack Clark, who, instead of finding a publisher for it, had 500 copies of the little book printed himself and sold them to his passengers for $5 apiece. As a kid of the 90s, I can fully appreciate the importance of this book. As it draws one of the most vivid pictures of life in Chicago and in every other city during the 90s as matter of fact.Good crime fiction can hold a mirror up to society, and that’s what Clark is doing here. This is not so much an amateur sleuth novel as it is a chronicle of a modern American city. Imagine how many stories cab drivers can say about our decade?!
If you liked Ryan Gosling’s turn in Drive, you will likely also enjoy Nobody’s Angel, which features approximately as much time spent lovingly detailing the circuits the protagonist makes around a major metropolitan area at night (Chicago here, rather than L.A.), just as little plot as that film, and a similar sudden splash of violence like a handful of spice tossed into a bowl of oatmeal. Angel does edge out Drive in terms of number of words spoken by the protagonist, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because as a cabby you have to speak to your fares at least enough to tell them what they owe.