“Something happened tonight, I don’t know what. Something that ripped the veil between the Chicago of the living and the Chicago of the dead…”
Undertown is a clever fusing of history and horror intertwined with real events set around the historic crime wave/prohibition era of 1930’s America. I found myself reading this novella in one sitting within a few enjoyable hours.
The story centers around main character Billy Foster jumping from his present to past in a clear and well paced style. As Billy’s coming of age tale unfolds towards a life of crime influenced by his older ‘brother’ George it slowly moves and twists into a ghostly direction that is unique for the genre.
In the present day of Billy’s story we see him along with homeless companion Sam as they both struggle in the fringes of the crime society beneath the streets of Chicago. There are subtle hints that suggests an unspoken romance between the pair; something I thought added an extra dimension to their friendship giving this retro story a modern feel and relevance whilst not being over done.
There are plenty of references and terms used in the narrative which are authentic to the historic era with a handy reference/definition section placed at the end of the book (something I felt was a nice touch and shows the author has put in a large amount of care, research and thought into).
Overall Undertown is a perfectly paced, easily readable and well written history novella with just the right amount of chills and atmosphere to make it stand out.