When A Rook Takes The Queen

Fiction - Social Issues
456 Pages
Reviewed on 12/15/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Edward Izzi, a full-time CPA, is a native of Detroit, with a successful accounting firm in the north suburban Chicago area. A talented writer in high school, he was told by one of his English teachers that any career in anything other than writing would be a "waste of time". Edward didn't start taking his writing talents seriously until much later in life. He has now written a countless number of short stories, poetry, and has completed several fiction thriller novels, including: Of Bread and Wine – A Rose from The Executioner – Demons of Divine Wrath – Quando Dormo – El Camino Drive, the political thriller When A Rook Takes the Queen – The Buzz Boys and the recent Detroit based Detective novel: They Only Wear Black Hats.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

When A Rook Takes The Queen by Edward Izzi is an urban crime suspense thriller that centers around a journalist, a crime family, an Irish Catholic priest, and the game that pulled them all together. To put it in the mildest, most palatable terms possible: the modern city of Chicago is in turmoil. Murders, gang violence, and all manner of brutality are on the rise, taking down a mayor who thought she could change it. Investigative journalist Larry McKay is following the story and it leads him to the rectory of Fr. Colin J. “Fitz” Fitzgerald. It is in this unlikely chess scene that McKay pieces together a partnership theory with the brain and the brawn planning moves almost wholly undetected over the Gentleman's Game. The stakes are highest for McKay who goes from cat to mouse in a chase that is anything but a game. “Your little chess games with Little Tony DiMatteo have now started a crime war amongst the different families within ‘The Outfit.’ They’re out there now, shooting thugs, street looters, and rioters. The gangs in this city, especially the Black Cobras, are now vowing revenge.”

The first thing that jumps out when you start reading When A Rook Takes The Queen is the point-of-view voice. It's strong as it shifts between persons and an omniscient narrator and I can almost hear a slick Chicago accent from everyone I meet in Edward Izzi's book. Larry McKay is relentless and exactly the type of reporter I can root for. The balance between fearlessness and recklessness is razor-thin but Izzi has McKay skating across it like it's his job...because it is. The enormity of what he reveals is multi-dimensional and some of the best parts are when McKay gets into interrogation mode. Thick layers of corruption and incredibly detailed manipulation emerge as Izzi peels them back with restraint. The pacing and plot are excellent but, at its heart, this is a truly character-driven storyline, and Izzi's dialogue is king. McKay has the protag-chops to lead an entire series and it would be incredible to see the drivers that got him there. A prequel, maybe? Checkmate.

K.C. Finn

When A Rook Takes the Queen is a work of fiction in the mystery and thriller genres. It is aimed at mature adult readers and was penned by author Edward Izzi. The book follows reporter Larry McKay as he follows the trail of an assassin straight to a weekly chess game between a Catholic priest and a local crime boss. Realizing that this chess game is where a plan to end violence with violence is being orchestrated across the whole of Chicago, McKay’s life is put in the crosshairs as an entire criminal empire becomes set on preventing him from breaking one of the biggest stories in the city’s history.

The secret to a compelling mystery is to keep the reader on their toes throughout, and it’s a secret that Edward Izzi has clearly mastered. Using multiple viewpoints to keep audiences guessing about how reliable their information is, moving quickly between high-impact moments of action and more considered investigation and reflection, Izzi understands what makes a mystery compelling and invites the audience to play along. McKay is a protagonist who offers a very flawed and human core for the whole narrative, investigating the major players in the mystery at hand whilst reflecting on the motives and methods each side uses to achieve their goals. When A Rook Takes the Queen is an exciting and dynamic mystery with a great cast of characters and a narrative style that teases the excitement out of every corner of the story. I recommend it highly to any fans of the mystery genre.

Asher Syed

A city rocked with violence that leads to a mayor being murdered is the catapult that sets the plot in motion in When a Rook Takes the Queen by Edward Izzi. Set in contemporary Chicago, the disappearance of the DiMatteo crime family's priest becomes a larger issue when the devoutly Catholic mother of the Capo dei Capi, “Little Tony” DiMatteo, passes. Fr. Colin Fitzgerald rises to the occasion and an unveiled jab leads Little Tony to Fr. Fitz's chess table. Meanwhile, Larry McKay from the Chicago Tribune is shuffling through leads to uncover the massive story of the mayor's murder, when he catches some traction on a hunch and picks off pawns until he is able to confirm his suspicions: Little Tony and Fr. Fitz are closer than just chess buddies; they are the proverbial discovered attack with mate threat. The escalating violence between mafiosos and rival gangs is on the verge of blowing up the board entirely, and McKay being knee-deep in it puts him in a series of possible crossfires.

I made a sad discovery one evening as we sat down to dinner as a family and I began to chat about Edward Izzi's When a Rook Takes the Queen. At the mention of the Italian mafia, my now-adult daughter asked, “Those olden-days senior citizens who made Vegas?” Apparently, good mafia literature and movies are a dying breed and beyond the scope of the history books, and non-existent as a plot-driver to my millennial daughter. Izzi is here with a riveting crime novel to help bridge that gap, by bringing in rivals that may be closer to the only style of street warfare a young adult reader will be able to identify. The writing is good and believable, which is important, and because of this, the engagement between characters and readers happens organically. The book is long but if this tends to be a turn-off for you, be assured that the pacing is so good you won't feel a thing. This is a solid thriller and a wildly fun read.

Vincent Dublado

An intense urban thriller, When A Rook Takes The Queen by Edward Izzi takes a look at corruption within the Catholic Church and organized crime. Chicago Tribune reporter Larry McKay is a study of a relentless character as the murder of the openly gay mayor Janice Kollar propels him into a life and death investigation. Considering Kollar’s enemies list and the city already in an acute state of disorder, McKay finds it difficult to bag a prime suspect. His preoccupation takes a favorable turn in his discovery of a weekly gambit between two of Chicago’s influential figures—former chess grandmaster turned Catholic priest and political activist Father Colin J. Fitzgerald and organized crime boss Anthony DiMatteo aka Little Tony. This development allows McKay to gain new clues, as the priest is trying to gain Little Tony’s trust—and winning the Capo Dei Capi’s confidence is far more critical than beating him in any chess game.

When A Rook Takes The Queen feels more contemplative than the usual crime fiction norm. It has a structure reminiscent of Elmore Leonard’s grittiness and Mario Puzo’s chutzpah. It is 500 pages—immersion in a journalist’s life that is more intense than what we are used to of field journalists venturing into hostile territories to bring a scoop for the six o’clock news. Edward Izzi has a facility for writing about crime, religion, politics, and Chicago history. But most of all, he writes about sin, loss, regret, and how you can feel like a pawn with limited movement in a game that can sweep you in just a few brilliant moves. It is not a seamless novel as evident in the preponderance of sentences that can use some trimming. But Izzi has written a story with a strong protagonist operating in a well-knitted plot so that you become more than willing to tackle its length.

Rabia Tanveer

When A Rook Takes the Queen by Edward Izzi is a murder mystery with a twist. Janice Kollar, the mayor of Chicago, was assassinated, and Larry McKay was tasked to investigate the event. As a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Larry was used to investigating strange occurrences in the city. However, the death of the mayor had left the city in utter chaos with riots and general lawlessness. Investigating the death of the mayor was even more difficult as the mayor had many enemies. The deeper he dug into the mystery, the stranger and the more dangerous it became. Before he knew it, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Somehow, a former grand chess master and now a Catholic priest, a political activist, and a crime boss were making the investigation baffling and difficult. With Larry’s life online, it was all up to Larry’s investigative skills to get the job done and stay alive at the same time.

Packed with action and full of surprises, I was not expecting to love When A Rook Takes the Queen as much as I did. I thought the story would be all over the place, but Edward Izzi pleasantly surprised me with the powerful narrative, incredibly developed story, and remarkable pacing. The author slowly revealed some very vital information to readers to keep them invested. The connections created and the angles constructed were all very believable and enjoyable at the same time. The combination of all these things made this story highly entertaining. Larry is relatable, his dialogues have just enough force to leave an impact and make the readers like him. Fantastic from start to finish. Entertaining and enjoyable!