The Fruitcake Murders
Abingdon Press, Oct 6 2015, $14.99
In 1926 Chicago, musing over his two children’s diverse anticipation of the holidays with just a couple of days to Christmas; Jan Lewandowski leaves his home to walk to his small candy making factory. On the way he looks into Lombardi’s Grocery and Produce where his fruitcakes are on sale; only to find none on display. Angrily he enters the store to confront Lombardi but is greeted by the silence of the storeowner’s corpse. CPD arrests Lewandowski, who insists he is innocent, but is executed for the murder of Lombardi.
Two decades later, WWII veteran CPD Detective Lane Walker investigates the murder of Ethan Elrod. Chicago Herald reporter Tiffany Clayton arrives at the scene to interview Mr. Elrod only to learn from Walker he is dead. As the cop and the journalist squabble over their history together, they separately and at times very reluctantly join forces looking into the homicides of several men; who have in common death by Lewandowski’s missing fruitcakes.
This quirky post WWII police procedural captures the essence of the classic 1940s murder mysteries while also making a strong case against the death penalty in the very state that analyzed its capital cases leading to a moratorium and eventually repeal. Although the leads’ incessant bickering gets old fast, for the most part The Fruitcake Murders is outstanding especially when the focus is on the captivating converging cases.