Tuesday, 26 May 2015


2 this week from Chicago cab-driver, journalist and author Jack Clark. 

Ever heard of him? Me neither, until some browsing on Amazon a year or two ago when I hit upon his books.

I was reminded of Sam Reaves  and his Chicago cabbie series starring Cooper MacLeish.  Visit here for more info.

He’s written 4 novels in total including three in his Nick Acropolis series. The first of which – Westerfield’s Chain was published by St Martin’s back in 2002 and was a Shamus Award finalist.

There’s a nine year gap between Westerfield’s Chain and the second in the series, Dancing on Graves. Highway Side came out in 2011. His other novel was published by Hard Case Crime in 2010 – Nobody’s Angel.

He’s also written a couple of books with his mother - Mary Jo Ryan Clark. ON THE HOME FRONT and PRIVATE PATH. Studs Terkel said, "Jack Clark's wondrous celebration of his working-class mother and her natural gifts as a storyteller has touched me deeply. Hooray for Mary Jo Ryan Clark and her boy Jack."

Oh, and he’s also a singer-songwriter and plays gigs! (What doesn't he do?)

Clark’s website – Hack Writing is here.

Westerfield’s Chain

Westerfield's Chain was a finalist for the Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel.

 "A pure delight for many reasons, not the least of which is the way Jack Clark celebrates and rings a few changes on the familiar private-eye script. There's a memorable moment [on] virtually every page." - Chicago Tribune

"Clark knows his city: the geography and flavor of the neighborhoods are vividly presented, and interesting, often quirky characters are introduced along this fascinating ride." - Chicago Reader

"Jack Clark's descriptions are beautifully haunting and his plotting is exceptional." - Romantic Times

"A likeable protagonist and spirited, uncluttered prose." - Kirkus Review "It's a great read."-Publishers Weekly

Hack Writing & Other Stories

These 17 stories which first appeared in the Chicago Reader, cover everything from art to taxicabs. In between you'll find stories about pauper burials, the newspaper business, a high school cheating scandal, accidents and saloons. One element the stories have in common is the city of Chicago.


  1. I like that title Hack Writing a lot, Col - very clever. I've heard of Clark, but haven't (yet) read his work. I mean to though, at some point, so I'll be interested in what you think of it.

    1. I'm probably a third of the way through this and I'm enjoying it. It's interesting to get an insider's view on a city and how it functions - albeit some of these pieces are maybe 20 years old.
      Disputes between taxi drivers and local government, how the small man gets squished when the movers and shakers who have the ears of the politicos have a complaint which is trivial in the extreme and merely a misunderstanding - one man loses his livelihood.
      There's another excellent piece on the laying to rest of the unclaimed dead - the unfortunate homeless and skid row inhabitants who pass. Sometimes you don't need to be homeless, sometimes the lack of a family or friends is enough to be unmourned.
      I hope you get the time to read something by him, either fiction or non!

  2. Col, Jack Clark is not the first cab driver-cum-published writer I have heard of. Someone like him in India would have been instantly famous.

    1. It's funny how I'm drawn to these kind of tales-reports-narrations - call them what you will. I read JW Nelson's LA Limo Tales earlier this year. Plus I recently re-visited a blog post from December, 2012 - Dan Fante's Corksucker - 8 stories looslely narrated around an LA cab driver.

      Dan Fante is the son of 30's and onwards author John Fante.

  3. It's a cliché about cab drivers and who they had in the back of the cab - but I think they often do have good stories to tell. One to watch.

    1. When I pulled the bits together for the post, I thought I'd have a look at his writing and I've been steadily working my way through the book ever since. It's a fascinating read - observations and reminiscences on Chicago and how his neighbourhoods have changed in the past 50 years.

  4. Stories about Chicago sound interesting. I will check out your review now.

    1. I do like Chicago as a setting. The Mark Smith book I have on the go is a Chicago one also.