Rogers Park

Fiction - Suspense
224 Pages
Reviewed on 03/02/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jane Finch for Readers' Favorite

Rogers Park by Mark Pople tells the story of Brian who has harboured the desire for revenge against his father since he deserted Brian when he was nine years old. Remaining in his home city of Chicago and working as a high school teacher, Brian’s life is more of an existence until he takes a short cut that changes the direction of his life forever. He is faced with challenges he never expected and impossible choices as he enters a world he had not known existed, and his calm and familiar daily life turns to chaos. Finally, when given the chance for revenge, he is faced with the ultimate decision of forgiveness – or satisfaction.

The author, Mark Pople, has written an engaging suspense thriller that I enjoyed from the first sentence. It’s always good to have a strong pull when starting a novel and this does not disappoint. The main character, Brian Casey, elicits empathy from the beginning as he sees first his brother leave home, and then his dysfunctional father. The story runs smoothly through one crisis after another and certainly has the reader on the edge of their seat. The author uses his excellent writing ability to bring Brian and his disastrous life journey out of the pages and into reality. The writing is fast-paced and engaging and I particularly liked the author’s use of Brian’s thoughts to enhance the story. Very enjoyable, well-structured and developed, and definitely recommended. I shall look forward to reading more from this author.

Jack Magnus

Rogers Park is a literary thriller written by Mark Pople. Brian Casey is an English teacher and aspiring novelist who teaches the AP in Literature Class at Booker High School in a Chicago suburb. Brian lives in an older apartment building in Rogers Park, a seedy and disreputable section of North Chicago. A short-cut home through an alley leads to unintended consequences when he's bombed with a trash bag that was thrown from a fire escape. He ends up on his back, and, as he's struggling to his feet, hears an old woman crying out. Her name is Clara, and she, too, was knocked off her feet by the flying garbage. She invites him into her apartment so she can fix his torn trousers.

Mark Pople's literary thriller, Rogers Park, is a classy crime noir homage to Alfred Hitchcock. Pople's Chicago is dark and gloomy; the late winter desolation chills the reader as Casey trudges the streets to and from the el-trains to his apartment. Casey is a marvelous character who seems straight out of one of Hitchcock's suspenseful films. He's a witness to a brutal crime and becomes the target of a deranged killer. The transfer student, Zachary, whose invitation to go out and socialize with some kids from school goes horribly wrong, is the perfect supporting character for the beleaguered teacher. Pople tells the story of Rogers Park through these two characters, and it works so very well. Rogers Park has the ambiance, suspense, and darkness that Hitchcock loved to portray on film. I think he would have loved this book. Rogers Park is most highly recommended.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Rogers Park by Mark Pople is an inspiring novel of forgiveness, and the long journey towards it. Brian Casey is a high school teacher who lives in Rogers Park. One evening, on his way home, he decides to take a shortcut through the Farwell-Pratt alley, a decision that is going to affect his life forever. Years before, his father left without a word and, a self-confessed Alfred Hitchcock junkie, Brian plots how to get his revenge. Heading down the alley that fateful night, he is hit by a falling bag of rubbish, landing him at the feet of Clara. Invited into her apartment so she can fix his trousers, he meets Rachel, her granddaughter, and the woman who is going to change his life. But there are other people to do that. Matthew Dials, Zach and Winston, to name but three of the people who all have a hand in leading Brian Casey to his destination, through murder, blackmail and addiction, not to mention plagiarism.

Rogers Park is Mark Pople’s first full length novel and I have to say he’s done an amazing job. There are a number of different stories going on here but all of them are intertwined with one another. Mark has done a fantastic job of weaving all the complicated threads of Brian Casey’s life together and drawing everything towards the conclusion. There is an awful lot going on in Mr Casey’s life and a lot of different characters making an appearance. Some may find the chopping back and forth between the stories confusing, but it isn’t. Careful reading will indicate exactly how they all tie in together and it will become clear that this is a novel about making choices. Mark Pople has written a winning novel here and I trust that there will be more from him in the future.