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 “Dante’s Poison,” Lynne Raimondo, Seventh Street Books, Amherst, NY

“Dante’s Poison” by Evanston author Lynne Raimondo is her second mystery featuring Dr. Mark Angelotti, a Chicago psychiatrist with flaws and deep feelings: regrets about his divorce, grief for one son and worry about the other. A hereditary illness has caused the doctor to become blind, and no effective treatment is available. Dr. Angelotti continues to practice medicine and seems to have come to terms with his disability: He has learned Braille and uses helpful technology and a cane. His other senses have sharpened and he can do most things just fine. In private, he continues to process his blindness emotionally. He bristles at well-meaning, if ignorant, solicitousness and takes risks sometimes that perhaps he should not.

Dr. Angelotti agrees to act as an expert witness for his friend (and perhaps more, if he would allow it), lawyer Hallie Sanchez, when her former boss, Jane Barrett, is accused of murdering her lover, Rory Gallagher (a journalist, not the famous Irish guitarist). The evidence against her is circumstantial, but damning: When the newspaperman’s nephew has him exhumed, what had seemed simple cardiac arrest is identified as murder – by use of an antipsychotic drug made by the company Barrett represents.

The mystery is entertaining and really shines when the characters get to court. Ms. Raimondo has a lot of history in the field, and much of it is in Chicago.  She came from New York to Chicago in 1981 to join a law firm and after some years joined Arthur Andersen LLP, and was appointed Anderson’s General Counsel after Enron. She also worked as General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Revenue. Ms. Raimondo has done her research on medicine, but she writes of Chicago – and the courtroom – as only one who has lived there can.

“Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America’s Heartland,” Anna Blessing, Agate Books’ Midway, Chicago.

“Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America’s Heartland” is the newly released laud of Midwestern craft brewers and beers by Chicago writer, photographer and committed Midwesterner Anna Blessing with Evanston’s Midway imprint of Agate Publishing Inc.

The attractive art paperback is packed with photos from the author’s visits to 20 Midwestern breweries that include Chicago’s Piece, Metropolitan and Moody Tongue brewing companies and other Illinois establishments Two Brothers, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria and Jolly Pumpkin. Among the fourteen breweries outside of Chicago are Bell’s of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Indiana’s Three Floyds.

Not only does Ms. Blessing cover the beers themselves, she tells the stories of how founders and brewers found their callings – they love beer and the making of it – what kinds of beers they make, how they opened their breweries, production volume, websites, even the brewers’ music playlists (a lot of heavy metal there). Photographs are varied and include beautifully rendered labels, beer-makers at work, bottle-filling systems, the pouring of pints, and many of the people themselves.

Evanston has an exceptional homebrew club and three new breweries/eateries (Temperance, The Peckish Pig, and Sketchbook up and going, and Smylie Bros., any day now), as well as many establishments that do not make their own, but make a serious effort to provide an excellent range of great beers to customers. This book will appeal to lots of local readers – as well as local drinkers. 

Ms. Blessing, writer also of “Locally Grown: Portraits of Artisanal Farms from America’s Heartland” (2012)”eat.shop Chicago” and other eat.shop guides, has also got the chops for hops.

 “Music Appreciation,” Chris Greene Quartet, recorded at Uptown Recording, Chicago. Single Malt Recordings.

Evanston jazz saxophonist and “Future Emperor of Evanston” Chris Greene, with Damian Espinosa (keyboards), Marc Piane (double bass) and Steve Corley (percussion), have another winner with “Music Appreciation,” released in March, just two years after their excellent 2012 cCD, “A Group Effort.” The two-disc set is another dynamic and unconventional multi-genre-influenced collection of songs by members of the quartet and others.

After the brief scattered-sound Intro, the CD begins in unpredictable earnest with Mr. Espinoza’s composition “The Missing Part.” “Papuera” is next, by Brazilian “MPB” (Musica popular brasileira) Ed Motta, whose music fuses Brazilian styles with imported material such as jazz and rock, in 5/8 time. This leads into the “Institutional Samba in B Major,” written by Mr. Greene – unusually, in a major rather than a minor key. A heady R&B rendition of Charles Mingus’s “Nostalgia in Times Square” follows.

Bassist Mark Piane’s unusual compositions “Clean & Clear” and “Divers,” the band’s foray into the realm of free jazz, flank the catchy, fun “The Moose is Loose!” by Mr. Greene. “Solution” by keyboardist Mr. Espinosa is next. The line-up turns a corner with the ballad “Molar Melancholia,” according to Mr. Greene’s website (writer Aaron Cohen), a sympathetic ode to his infant son’s teething. The band borrowed locally with “Day of Honor,” a tune by Chicago musician William Kurk in 7/8 time, and return to eclectic CGQ versions of a couple of jazz classics: John Coltrane’s “Equinox” – with a reggae beat – and “Deluge” by Wayne Shorter. The final cut on the CD is “Firecracker,” 1970s and ‘80s synthpop Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra’s version re-envisioned.

“Music Appreciation” really is what it calls itself: a recognition of different genres and styles – funk, hiphop, R&B, soul, rock, and more – and a warmly affectionate, energetic and successful, creative re-use of music that is the Chris Green Quartet’s particular synthesis.