David Hagerty

Crime Fiction Author

A Video Preview

Over the last few weeks, I created a video preview for Low Down Dirty Vote II, a fundraiser to halt voter suppression. The short fiction anthology includes my latest story about Duncan Cochrane and his role in trying to get the ERA passed. The book is due for release July 4, but if you’d like a preview, and to see my editing skills, take a look.

Who has the Right to Write?

All the recent controversy about American Dirt has sparked an ongoing debate about who has the privilege to write about a culture. Does one have to be a member of a particular racial/ethnic/religious group, etc., in order to represent it in words?
I feel strongly not. I’ve read a number of books where all the characters check the same demographic boxes as the author (for example, young, privilege white boys at a private prep school), and they are almost universally dull and myopic. I credit authors who represent people unlike themselves. During my career, I’ve purposely written from the POV of women, African-Americans, gay people, and most recently Native-Americans. That is one of the great challenges in fiction: to take on the perspective of another.
To deny authors that right, even if they come from a privileged group, is to reduce all fiction to thinly veiled auto-biography.
The question should not be whether an author is entitled to depict a particular person but whether they did it well.
As to American Dirt, I haven’t read it yet and can’t comment on its success in that regard, but I respect the effort.


A Favorite Holiday Tradition in Chicago

All my favorite Christmas traditions in Chicago occurred at Marshall Field’s, the city’s flagship department store on downtown’s State Street. They had the best window decorations, the biggest indoor Christmas tree, and — my favorite — the Frango mints. While the first two customs endure, the last passed away after the store sold out to Macy’s. A sad passing…

AAA, You’re Fired

This week, I fired AAA as my insurance carrier after they denied me an umbrella policy. They claimed that my side gig as an author made me a bad liability risk. This after checking my website and seeing that I speak a couple times a year about my work. The tone deaf customers service rep I was speaking to had no idea why I’d take offense at such discrimination.

Wait till they hear what I have to say about them now…

Reader for Books 3 and 4

Finally found an appropriate reader for the third and fourth books in my Duncan Cochrane series. He’s got a good, deep voice fitting to the genre and doesn’t feel the need to stretch into falsetto for the females. We’re currently scheduled to release Brutal in late March and Cunning in June, both on Audible, but I’ll keep this page updated as we draw close.

A Trip Home

Every time I return to Chicago, I have my to do list:

Watch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field

Eat a deep dish pizza

Bike along the lakefront

Read a good book

For my latest stop, I did all four…

A New Story in Alfred Hitchcock

Zozzled, splifficated, ossified, hoary eyed, blotto on skee, rotgut, hooch, giggle water, panther piss, bootleg, brown plaid. All can be had at a juice joint, clip joint, barrel house, speakeasy by dewdroppers, lollygaggers, and other jingle brains.

Which is to say, the 1920s had a bonanza of good slang, mostly related to alcohol. Prohibition not only drove drinkers underground into speakeasies, it also invented a whole new vocabulary for the illegal pleasures.

This provided one of several inspirations for my latest story, “Drinks at the El Navajo,” which appears in the new edition of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

To read more, sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of the page…

Launch Day

They Tell Me You Are Cunning, the fourth book in my Duncan Cochrane mystery series, releases tomorrow, which means lots of updating online, to this website, Amazon, Goodreads, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.

Nowadays, authors behave more like social media darlings or wannabe influencers, trying to promote their name and face in as many places as they can.

To those of us born before the tech boom, and those whose instinct is not toward self-promotion/revelation, it’s a bit of a stretch.

Dirty Politics, Chicago Style

Last month saw the arrest of Alderman Ed Burke—who has served on Chicago’s City Council since I was a child—for extorting donations to his campaign. This is only the latest is a long history of corruption in Illinois, particularly in its major metropolis. Such shenanigans also create the backdrop for my four novels, which play on the Second City’s reputation for dirty politics.

As a primer, I’ll list some of the lowlights from the state’s history. This summation is far from comprehensive (with 50 aldermen in the city alone, many up to something, how could it be?) but it will give readers the Cliff Notes version.

First among them has to be Mayor Richard J. Daley, also known to locals as Da Mayor, Hizzonor, and simply Boss. For clarity’s sake, I have to acknowledge two things: Daley was never charged with any crime, and I’m referring here to the first Mayor Daley, not his son who succeeded him in office.

Daley is credited with perfecting a political machine that kept him in power for five terms. In truth, the Cook County Democratic party had controlled things since Anton Cermak took office in 1931, what is locally known as dynasticism. The Boys from Bridgeport (an Irish working-class neighborhood that nonetheless churned out five mayors in sixty years) controlled elections through many means. Among their favorite tricks were:

  • Four-legged voting (a friend from the party who accompanies you into the voting booth to ensure you pulled the right levers)
  • Hobo floto voto (those same partisans leading vagrants by one shaky hand to the polling stations)
  • Vote early, vote often (those not content to cast just one ballot)
  • Don’t let death disenfranchise you (those who are resurrected on election day)

The Machine was so called for its small army of patronage workers, precinct captains, and ward committeemen who dispensed favors to friends and meted out retribution to the disloyal. Every civil servant was expected to vote the ticket and to get their friends to do the same.

Some say that the Machine continues churning out victories to this day while others will tell you that the power of the Cook County Dems started to wane with Daley’s passing in 1977, resulting in the city’s first female and African-American mayors.

However, a grand jury report in 1982 found widespread instances of fraud, including vote buying, impersonation, and manipulation of ballots cast by the elderly and disabled.

Chicago is hardly alone in its corruption. Illinois’ state capitol has also produced more than its fair share of crooks, including four governors who’ve gone to prison in my lifetime. The distinction belongs to:

  • Rod Blagojevich, who tried to sell Barak Obama’s U.S. Senate seat after he was elected president.
  • George Ryan, who sold commercial driver’s licenses to unqualified truckers, including one who killed six children.
  • Dan Walker, who generously offered himself money from a savings and loan that he owned.
  • Otto Kerner, who was convicted of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and income-tax crimes (obviously, he was a busy man).

A few more of the major and petty offenders:

  • Dan Rostenkowski, who served 22 years in the U.S. House, including many as chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which governs taxation, pleaded guilty to mail fraud.
  • Jess Jackson Jr. (son of the prominent preacher and one-time presidential candidate), who used campaign funds to buy $750,000 in goods for himself and his wife, including a Michael Jackson fedora and cashmere capes.
  • Dennis Hastert, former speaker of the U.S.House, for sexually abusing four boys who he coached in wrestling.

What breeds such contempt for democracy? In my stories, it’s less about greed or power than blind spots. We come to accept our own world view as correct because we cannot see any other. As a wise man once told me, everyone believes their own b.s.

To see more images of the guilty, go to my Pinterest pagefor infamous Illinois politicians.

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