The Familiar Compound Trickster

In the 1930s, several years after his crackdown on Al Capone’s breweries, Eliot Ness assumes the position of Director of Public Safety of Cleveland, Ohio.  He makes resounding strides in reforming the police department, cracking down on corrupt labor unions, and spearing heading a drive to break up the Mayfield Road Mob.  But soon realizes a mounting threat to Cleveland’s security. A string of grotesque serial murders manifests itself. Bodies found, usually decapitated, often drained of blood, but always mutilated, limbs and often genitals scattered at sites about the city. As pressure mounts for the killer’s capture, Ness learns of a convincing suspect, an alcoholic physician who calls himself Gaylord Sundheim. However, “Sundheim” is a first cousin of the leader of the opposition party to the city’s government.  Can Ness and the mayor convict Sundheim without appearing to be conducting a cheap political maneuver to discredit political opponents?  Meanwhile, Ness begins suspecting that Sundheim has an accomplice or copycat follower.  Will Ness be able to unravel the mystery before the city’s outrage topples his career?  And what effects will his obsession with the killer have upon his already tottering marriage? A novel based on history.

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