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Rock Island Lines

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Frank Dodge, disgruntled and desperate for a story to write about, has a hot tip: Miguel Ramirez could be one of the last surviving descendants of a brutal gangster named John Looney. Dodge concocts a plan to meet the man, and they spend an evening drinking their way across the Quad Cities. When Ramirez is found floating in the Mississippi River the next morning, Dodge fin Frank Dodge, disgruntled and desperate for a story to write about, has a hot tip: Miguel Ramirez could be one of the last surviving descendants of a brutal gangster named John Looney. Dodge concocts a plan to meet the man, and they spend an evening drinking their way across the Quad Cities. When Ramirez is found floating in the Mississippi River the next morning, Dodge finds himself without a story and on the wrong side of a murder investigation. As Dodge and his buddy, homicide detective Brian Jefferson, go over the surprising events of the night Ramirez died, Dodge wonders if dead gangsters can keep on killing and if he’ll be the next victim.


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Frank Dodge, disgruntled and desperate for a story to write about, has a hot tip: Miguel Ramirez could be one of the last surviving descendants of a brutal gangster named John Looney. Dodge concocts a plan to meet the man, and they spend an evening drinking their way across the Quad Cities. When Ramirez is found floating in the Mississippi River the next morning, Dodge fin Frank Dodge, disgruntled and desperate for a story to write about, has a hot tip: Miguel Ramirez could be one of the last surviving descendants of a brutal gangster named John Looney. Dodge concocts a plan to meet the man, and they spend an evening drinking their way across the Quad Cities. When Ramirez is found floating in the Mississippi River the next morning, Dodge finds himself without a story and on the wrong side of a murder investigation. As Dodge and his buddy, homicide detective Brian Jefferson, go over the surprising events of the night Ramirez died, Dodge wonders if dead gangsters can keep on killing and if he’ll be the next victim.

57 review for Rock Island Lines

  1. 5 out of 5

    Harmony Kent

    Reviewed on behalf of The Review Board by Harmony Kent. I received a free PDF copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. In Rock Island Lines, Frank Dodge goes from therapist to travel writer to murder suspect. The tale begins at the end and takes us back, in phases, to the beginning, all the while, teasing us with the question: What in heck happened? The Mississippi River features heavily in this novel, and the author’s love for the area shows through. Like that great river, this tale w Reviewed on behalf of The Review Board by Harmony Kent. I received a free PDF copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. In Rock Island Lines, Frank Dodge goes from therapist to travel writer to murder suspect. The tale begins at the end and takes us back, in phases, to the beginning, all the while, teasing us with the question: What in heck happened? The Mississippi River features heavily in this novel, and the author’s love for the area shows through. Like that great river, this tale will take you through dark places and twists and turns, at a slow and often meandering pace, which gets bogged down at times. Information dumps and unnecessary repetition let down an otherwise excellent story premise. For example, four different conversations retold the same story. It would have been far better to simply summarise the last three, instead of making the reader go through it all again, and again, and … again. Likewise, back story was given to minor characters that didn’t appear more than the once—why? We don’t need their life story. They’re nobodies. Huge swaths of text are written in biographical format, and are extracts from a biography of deceased gangster John Looney, which take the reader through the dark life of this man. It reads real enough for you to wonder whether it’s fictional or not. Indeed, the author took his inspiration from a real life Rock Island Gangster: John P Looney. Anybody familiar with The Road to Perdition novels and movie will be familiar with the exploits of characters such as Michael Sullivan and John Rooney. So, yeah, the book contains a lot of history, and the main character has an obsession with the river. The pacing varied from fast-flowing to slow with sludge and, at times, stopped completely. Add to that the passive writing style, the namedropping in dialogue, the repetition, and the overuse of things like ‘very’, ‘pretty’, ‘own’, and etc., the whole thing ended up feeling too tedious for me. Even the book cover turns me off, and it shows nothing of the story at all. It gets 4 out of 10 TRB stars, which is one notch below a five, which would be ‘flip a coin and take a chance if you dare’. This translates into 2 out of 5 stars on other rating scales.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Although Frank Dodge is the protagonist and narrator of Rock Island Lines, The Quad Cities (Moline and Rock Island, Illinois, Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa), play such a major role in the story that they’re almost characters, too, with the history of these towns playing as much of a role as Dodge in the story. If the author’s goal was for the reader to view this area as more than just a pit stop on Interstate 80 (my previous opinion), it worked for me. This is both the strength and the weakness Although Frank Dodge is the protagonist and narrator of Rock Island Lines, The Quad Cities (Moline and Rock Island, Illinois, Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa), play such a major role in the story that they’re almost characters, too, with the history of these towns playing as much of a role as Dodge in the story. If the author’s goal was for the reader to view this area as more than just a pit stop on Interstate 80 (my previous opinion), it worked for me. This is both the strength and the weakness of this book, depending on the taste of the reader. If the reader is fan of mysteries and also has an interest in history, this is an excellent choice. The historical aspects are integrated well with the overall story and don’t feel forced, but if your taste for history is limited, that aspect may be too much. Not knowing a lot about the Quad Cities when I began, I suspect those who are familiar might find even more to like than I did. I did appreciate the shout out to Greg Brown and William Elliott Whitmore, a couple of Iowa musicians who would be obscure to many, which led me to believe there could be other subtle touches that those more in the know would pick up that I missed. Although this is Klinkenberg’s first novel, he did a credible job. The only nit I have to pick is a minor tendency towards repetitiveness, but not so much as to be an irritant. I enjoy the character of Frank Dodge and since Rock Island Lines is billed as the first of a series I’m guessing we’ll see more of him in the future. Based on the author’s biography, I’m guessing we’ll see Dodge solving mysteries and introducing the reader to the history of other towns along the Mississippi. I’m eager to see what Dodge finds in places like Red Wing, Hannibal, and Helena in the future. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Sometimes great reads grab your attention and keep you hooked cover to cover! Rock Island Lines engaged me from the onset, and took me on a deep and layered journey. I couldn't put it down. Klinkenberg demonstrates his artistry with weaving captivating fictional story-telling and expert knowledge of the Mississippi River in this book. Complete with unexpected twists and turns, depth of human emotion, schemes and dreams; it is everything one hopes for in a mystery novel. I highly recommend picking Sometimes great reads grab your attention and keep you hooked cover to cover! Rock Island Lines engaged me from the onset, and took me on a deep and layered journey. I couldn't put it down. Klinkenberg demonstrates his artistry with weaving captivating fictional story-telling and expert knowledge of the Mississippi River in this book. Complete with unexpected twists and turns, depth of human emotion, schemes and dreams; it is everything one hopes for in a mystery novel. I highly recommend picking this book up for yourself or loved ones today. Also, excited to just discover that there is a second installment already published in the Frank Dodge mystery series - Double Dealing in Dubuque! I first read Klinkenberg's 'Mississippi Valley Traveler' guide books (https://mississippivalleytraveler.com...) and found the ways he described often quaint and nuanced notes that constitute the mosaic of Mississippi River culture informative and inviting. In Rock Island Lines, these often overlooked nuances are present in relation to the setting (Quad Cities area of the MS River) AND in the story arc. Also, the ending was a big surprise... I'll conclude there so you can check it out for yourself! 5/5 stars for Rock Island Lines

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Davidsaver

    This mystery doesn't offer up the usual cast of suspects. Sure, there's the bartender of the Crooked Spine, but a chiropractic student? And the protagonist, a travel writer, who's preferred beat is the Mississippi River? This leads us off the beaten path of big-city crime to a secluded island tucked between Iowa and Illinois. Add in John Looney, Rock Island's pioneering crime lord, and the reader has an interesting mix of past and present criminal elements that need to be balanced in just the ri This mystery doesn't offer up the usual cast of suspects. Sure, there's the bartender of the Crooked Spine, but a chiropractic student? And the protagonist, a travel writer, who's preferred beat is the Mississippi River? This leads us off the beaten path of big-city crime to a secluded island tucked between Iowa and Illinois. Add in John Looney, Rock Island's pioneering crime lord, and the reader has an interesting mix of past and present criminal elements that need to be balanced in just the right way to reveal who killed Miguel Ramirez, robbing the young man of a second chance for a crime-free life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Good story line and characters This was a fun read. It has an interesting story, characters that drew you into their lives, and well written dialogue. I'm looking forward to the next Frank Dodge mystery. It would have been 4.5 stars if the editing had been better, not that it was bad editing, but a few noticeable incidents were missed. Good story line and characters This was a fun read. It has an interesting story, characters that drew you into their lives, and well written dialogue. I'm looking forward to the next Frank Dodge mystery. It would have been 4.5 stars if the editing had been better, not that it was bad editing, but a few noticeable incidents were missed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sheeri Cabral

    Great book, quick read. A good murder mystery that’s hard to put down! I look forward to the next Klinkenberg book!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Millmore

    4.5 Stars for this wonderfully crafted mystery! Frank is a therapist with a good, stable job, but a tragedy with a patient changes his life and he decides to take a sabbatical and travel, which in turn leads him to a new career as a travel writer. Frank’s passion and specialty is the Mississippi river and the societies that surround it. Because of that passion, the history and lore are also of great interest, especially the story of John Looney, a mobster from the early 20th century. Frank’s obse 4.5 Stars for this wonderfully crafted mystery! Frank is a therapist with a good, stable job, but a tragedy with a patient changes his life and he decides to take a sabbatical and travel, which in turn leads him to a new career as a travel writer. Frank’s passion and specialty is the Mississippi river and the societies that surround it. Because of that passion, the history and lore are also of great interest, especially the story of John Looney, a mobster from the early 20th century. Frank’s obsession with Looney eventually leads him to one of the last remaining relatives of Looney, a young man named Miguel Ramirez, and Frank decides to befriend the young man in the hopes of learning everything there is to learn about the late mobster. Frank’s plan turns on him when Miguel is murdered after their first evening together and Frank is the prime suspect. This story is a combination of the history of the area (which the author seems to know quite well and I found very intriguing and informative) and a complicated fast paced mystery that kept me turning the pages until the very end. There are a lot of twists and turns, great characters and a wonderfully crafted mystery. This book was provided to me for free for an honest and unbiased review (see all our reviews at http://www.bookexplosions.com/ or on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/... )

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Bennett

    What this has to do with travel: Scenes on the Mississippi, other scenes in South America If you like a who-done-it, you'll enjoy this novel. Rock Island Lines is an interesting take on the murder mystery genre. It's set on the Mississippi mostly, but there are a few tangents that take the reader to Colombia and Peru. Descendants of a notorious early 20th century gangster, John Looney, and descendants of his enemies all get entwined in the present day after one of Looney's descendants turns up dea What this has to do with travel: Scenes on the Mississippi, other scenes in South America If you like a who-done-it, you'll enjoy this novel. Rock Island Lines is an interesting take on the murder mystery genre. It's set on the Mississippi mostly, but there are a few tangents that take the reader to Colombia and Peru. Descendants of a notorious early 20th century gangster, John Looney, and descendants of his enemies all get entwined in the present day after one of Looney's descendants turns up dead. Also embroiled in the mystery is our narrator, ex-psychologist turned travel writer Frank Dodge, whose fascination with Looney spurred him to write a book on the gangster and now pushes him into a very unpleasant situation. He's one of the prime suspects in the murder, and he's got to figure out a way to untangle the truth. The story isn't without its flaws: I thought it ended too abruptly and neatly, and there wasn't as much intrigue as I'd like, but I still enjoyed reading it; it was written well, and I enjoyed the complex dynamics of how Looney's descendants and the descendants of his enemies got tangled in such a complex web throughout the century.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Reads A-Lot

    From therapist to travel writer to murder suspect. How the heck did that happen? "I’ve never been one who believed that the sins of the ancestors had to defile the whole family." (202) For Frank Dodge, it was just supposed to be an evening of sipping beer, but somehow it turned into one hell of a night. What started off as simple research on an infamous gangster and his descendants turns into murder. But who would want to kill Miguel Ramirez? Curiosity beckons the reader to find out. Author mixed From therapist to travel writer to murder suspect. How the heck did that happen? "I’ve never been one who believed that the sins of the ancestors had to defile the whole family." (202) For Frank Dodge, it was just supposed to be an evening of sipping beer, but somehow it turned into one hell of a night. What started off as simple research on an infamous gangster and his descendants turns into murder. But who would want to kill Miguel Ramirez? Curiosity beckons the reader to find out. Author mixed a frothy brew of mystery and satire interlaced with the murky swirl of a dark biography. The story crosses between the history of crime boss John Looney, a synopsis of Dodge's last night with Miguel Ramirez, and an extensive murder investigation with the FBI. What's the connection and what is it that Dodge isn't sharing? Overall, the story is a compelling ride with occasional intervals of tedium, complexity, and general lag. There was a lot of history, and what was with Dodge's obsession with the river? I guess even in the face of a life in prison, a person could still find solace in flowing water. But, nonetheless, the reader has to find out what happened.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fabien

    Received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Like the Mississipi River, the story will lead you through dark places, at a slow pace, with deep characters who interwine in the heart of the quads city where all the story takes place. After a few windings, lost in this murder investigation, like the river , everything comes to a point of clarity . Great first novel by Dean Klinkenberg, love the style , recommended for noir fiction mystery connoisseurs. Exciting to discover the next adventures of F Received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Like the Mississipi River, the story will lead you through dark places, at a slow pace, with deep characters who interwine in the heart of the quads city where all the story takes place. After a few windings, lost in this murder investigation, like the river , everything comes to a point of clarity . Great first novel by Dean Klinkenberg, love the style , recommended for noir fiction mystery connoisseurs. Exciting to discover the next adventures of Frank Dodge .....

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melissa B

    I won this book through GoodReads First Reads. A story of a disgruntled, ex-therapist - turned travel writer. His love of the Mississippi Valley truly is exhibited in the details of this book. Seeklng the history of gangster, murderer and thief (John Looney), Frank Dodge finds himself a suspect in the murder of Looney's descendent. Lots of intelligent twists and turns keep the reader eager to continue reading without interruption. I won this book through GoodReads First Reads. A story of a disgruntled, ex-therapist - turned travel writer. His love of the Mississippi Valley truly is exhibited in the details of this book. Seeklng the history of gangster, murderer and thief (John Looney), Frank Dodge finds himself a suspect in the murder of Looney's descendent. Lots of intelligent twists and turns keep the reader eager to continue reading without interruption.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Bujorian

    I received this book through a goodreads giveaway, it's definitely an interesting book. It is well written, a great first novel. The book is about Frank Doge, who works as a writer who decides to investigate the murderer and gangster John Looney. The book has lots of well written twists and turns. It kept me wanting to read until I finished it. It's a quick and easy read! If you enjoy mystery novels and books that make you want to solve the case, this is the book for you! I received this book through a goodreads giveaway, it's definitely an interesting book. It is well written, a great first novel. The book is about Frank Doge, who works as a writer who decides to investigate the murderer and gangster John Looney. The book has lots of well written twists and turns. It kept me wanting to read until I finished it. It's a quick and easy read! If you enjoy mystery novels and books that make you want to solve the case, this is the book for you!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Klinkenberg

    entertaining blend of history and fiction The book is a quick and engaging read - a story that blends the true story of gangster John Looney with a murder mystery. Very fun and filled with fascinating history. Enjoyed it!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sweetpea

    I received a free copy of this book form the GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review. Great first novel, really enjoyed it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary Newcomb

    The legacy of John Looney is over. Or is it? This tale, set in a thinly disguised Quad Cities was a departure from some of my usual fare. It is a fascinating spin on a tawdry era.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Spellmeyer

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janet Brakel

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard Desjardins

    An unexpected pleasure!!! As I get myself ready to begin a new travel adventure on the Great River Road I got into reading Deans' informative Road Tripping guides to help me plan my route and stops along the way... I was then made aware that Dean had a mystery series out and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed as Frank Dodge took me to the rivers edge as he and his law enforcement friend dive in to unravel an unsolved murder mystery!!!! I've already added Deans second book in the ser An unexpected pleasure!!! As I get myself ready to begin a new travel adventure on the Great River Road I got into reading Deans' informative Road Tripping guides to help me plan my route and stops along the way... I was then made aware that Dean had a mystery series out and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed as Frank Dodge took me to the rivers edge as he and his law enforcement friend dive in to unravel an unsolved murder mystery!!!! I've already added Deans second book in the series to my "must read" list!!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    David Simons

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gail

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tanner Aljets

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diana

  23. 5 out of 5

    Annabelle Sanchez

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Eidson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gail

  27. 5 out of 5

    Libbye

  28. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eddy Bryant

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  31. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Carnes

  32. 5 out of 5

    Seanna Yeager

  33. 4 out of 5

    Vykki

  34. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Cobb Sabatini

  35. 4 out of 5

    Joy Adams

  36. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Bingham

  37. 5 out of 5

    DC547

  38. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

  39. 4 out of 5

    Pat

  40. 4 out of 5

    Zainab

  41. 5 out of 5

    Shana M. Garrity

  42. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Cole Marie Mckinnon

  43. 5 out of 5

    Carla

  44. 5 out of 5

    Janice

  45. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Todd

  46. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  47. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Reader

  48. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  49. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

  50. 5 out of 5

    Rose Vommaro

  51. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  52. 4 out of 5

    Sue Williams

  53. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  54. 5 out of 5

    Lou Wooten

  55. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Zitsch

  56. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

  57. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

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