SHORT LINE is the accounting of life and death over five steamy summer days and nights on the streets of the southeast side of Chicago, as seen through the eyes of young journalist Nick Daniels, a lifer in the rough and tumble community. With a troubled past of his own, Nick experiences the mixed blessings of the homicide of his life-long enemy, Joey Miller, as well as the murder of a friend, Leon Perez, deaths that entangle Nick into the role of suspect by the detectives of the Chicago Police Department.
Chicago’s southeast side is also the little but commanding fiefdom of Tenth Ward Alderman Antonio Coronado, a three-time loser for the office, only gaining the seat of power after the sudden and unexplained death of the previous alderman. Appointed by a weakened mayor himself in his own political tailspin, Coronado uses his appointment to expand his own ambitions of even higher office. The mayor’s seat, perhaps?
Joey Miller commands a small army of thugs and ne’er do wells and, with his own links to the west suburban syndicate, aimed to control and exploit the crime element of the entire southeast side, through his manipulations of the alderman’s office and the last union of any consequence remaining on the southeast side of Chicago. Even in death, Miller remains a thorn in the side of Nick Daniels, who has to face and explain their mixed past to himself; his editor, the bed-ridden Larry Galica; Nick’s girlfriend and the love of his life, Erlinda Sanchez, who is also the sister-in-law and executive secretary to Alderman Coronado; and Lieutenant Vic Hanley, a hard-nosed long-time member of Chicago’s Police force, also a lifer on the southeast side, who years before had taken Nick under his wing, and now has to be sure the young journalist survives the weekend.
SHORT LINE also introduces the reader to the southeast side of Chicago, once the city’s steelmaking center employing tens of thousands of working men and women, now a place often overlooked or forgotten by the powers in City Hall. Alderman Coronado has a plan to not only turn the eyes of the entire city towards his Tenth Ward, but to catapult his own ambitions to city-wide office, or an even greater position of power. While neglected by most city officials except to garner votes during an election season, the southeast side remains a strong and vibrant community of hard-working, family oriented peoples of mixed races, faiths and backgrounds, all linked by a common thread, the place they call home.
Through his travels across the five days and nights that SHORT LINE takes place, Nick introduces the reader to a host of peoples and places, his favorite eateries and watering holes, seeing a community come alive through the interactions of its residents. While not shy about his opinions and his own outlook on life, Nick Daniels is outspoken when it comes to defending his lifelong home neighborhood and the people in it he loves.