The Wall Street Journal loved it!
Here’s what they said:
John Guzlowski’s powerful “Little Altar Boy” (Kasva Press, 323 pages, $14.95) centers on the fatal stabbing of a Chicago nun. Set in 1967, Mr. Guzlowski’s latest takes place a decade after events in his equally memorable “Suitcase Charlie,” which also featured Windy City detective Hank Purcell and his partner Marvin Bondarowicz.
The victim was beloved—saintly, some say. She had made a recent secret visit to Purcell’s home to alert him to the pedophiliac conduct of a parish priest. Did that confidential revelation prompt her murder? The priest in question seems to have a solid alibi, as does everyone else in the nun’s circumscribed world.
As he sorts out the nun’s killing, Hank is beyond distracted by the recent disappearance of his 19-year-old daughter, who had fallen into bad company. All this takes place right after Christmas, as snowfall covers Chicago with a sort of spiritual malaise. “He needed a miracle—maybe a few of them at once,” Hank thinks. What he gets instead is another dead body.
As Hank and his partner Marvin drive from one neighborhood to another, seeking information in rectories and blues clubs and drug dealers’ pads, Hank admits to himself: “He felt like a failure and a fool, like a man drowning in his own weakness and inadequacy.” But it’s also Hank’s habit to see a mission through to its end, however dire the consequences, cold the comfort, and irrevocable the harm to his family life and psychic health.