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Born in a refugee camp after World War II, John Guzlowski came with his family to the United States as a Displaced Person in 1951. His parents had been Polish slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and refugee neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, he met hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead comrades, and women who had walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. His poetry, fiction, and essays try to remember them and their voices.

His poems also remember his parents, who survived their slave labor experiences in Nazi Germany. A number of these poems appear in his books Language of Mules, Lightning and Ashes (Steel Toe Books), and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald (Finishing Line Press).

Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, reviewing the Polish translation of Language of Mules, for the journal Tygodnik Powszechny, said, “This volume astonished me.”



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Suitcase Charlie

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May 30, 1956. Chicago

On a quiet street corner in a working-class neighborhood of Holocaust survivors and refugees, the body of a little schoolboy is found in a suitcase.

He’s naked and chopped up into small pieces.

The grisly crime is handed over to two detectives who carry their own personal burdens, Hank Purcell, a married WWII veteran, and his partner, a wise-cracking Jewish cop who loves trouble as much as he loves the bottle.

Their investigation leads them through the dark corners and mean streets of Chicago—as more and more suitcases begin appearing.

Based on the Schuessler-Peterson murders that terrorized Chicago in the 1950s.




What people are saying...

"An intelligent, beautifully written thriller that confronts the dark and disturbing side of humanity, and evokes both the horror and the banality of evil. It is vivid, gripping and moving - a fine, compelling novel."

- British Mystery Writer, Carla Banks, Author of “Forest of Souls” (Harper Collins)

"Suitcase Charlie by John Guzlowski is a gritty noir story of murder. On May 30, 1956, a suitcase is discovered in Chicago. Inside that suitcase is the chopped up body of a little boy, a body that has been drained of blood. Detective Purcell and Detective Bondarowicz are given the case but, before they can make much headway, more suitcases appear. The detectives have their own demons to face, but it doesn’t stop them from searching every corner of the city to find their murderer. Their investigation takes them to dangerous places, to confront dangerous people from both sides of the track. Will they find their killer before another child is found, or will they be too late?

Suitcase Charlie by John Guzlowski is based on a true story, a story of murder from Chicago in the 1950s. I found myself gripped by Suitcase Charlie from page one and read the book right through, almost without stopping. Mr Guzlowski has captured the era perfectly, the racism that existed, the grittiness and the dark side to life. The book ended in exactly the way it should have done and in a way, I suspect, that reflects reality, not just then but maybe now to a certain extent as well. Mr Guzlowski covers anti-Semitism, the real horrors of surviving WWII, and the effect it had on the refugees from the war. The detectives in the story face being hampered in their investigation by bureaucracy and, to a certain extent, the racism of their commanding officers. This is an excellent story, very well written and highly gripping. I recommend it to anyone who likes noir or crime genres."

- Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite


  • Title: Suitcase Charlie
  • Author: John Guzlowski
  • Genre: Historical Fiction Thriller
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Release Date: June 1, 2015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1508975526
  • Imprint: White Stag

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