VJ Books Presents Author Eugene Izzi!
Eugene Izzi (March 23, 1953 _ December 7, 1996) was a lifelong resident of Chicago, setting most of his work in that city. He wrote in the classic hard-boiled style made famous by Mickey Spillane and Dashiell Hammett.
Izzi was raised on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois. Young Eugene dropped out of high school and enlisted in the army. He eventually earned his high school equivalency degree while in the service. He had also begun writing short volumes of what he called clones of Mickey Spillane books.
Returning to Hegewisch after his discharge, Izzi began working in the steel mills nearby. He also began to lead a wild, untamed life, spending most of his money in bars and taverns while often ignoring his wife and children at home. He was arrested several times and acquired a criminal record with the Chicago Police Department. At one point, he considered killing himself, but would later find salvation through the written word.
Izzi's life seemed headed toward a dead end as his drinking continued. Meanwhile, the steel mills had cut back production, leading to periodic layoffs. Desperate for a way out of the gritty, sooty jungle that he lived in, Izzi began pounding out stories on a typewriter. With the layoffs, he was able to focus on writing, and felt that his way out was with stories. He also quit drinking and reconciled with his wife, who actively encouraged his writing. With his determination, he cranked out an amazing six novels in six years, but was unable to get even one published.
After several years of steady rejection, breakthrough came in 1987 with the publication of "The Take" by St. Martin's Press. A story about a heist, it would land Izzi an advance of $20,000.00. Although it was not much, it spurred his interest, and he began writing more. His reviews were solid and sales of his books escalated steadlily. With his increase in income, Izzi and his family moved out of Hegewisch and settled in a Chicago suburb.
Trouble occured a few years later with the publication of "Tribal Secrets". Scheduled to be Izzi's breakout book, he looked forward to rave reviews and a place among prominent crime authors like Elmore Leonard and Ed McBain. However, many critics panned the book, and Bantam quickly remaindered the title. A dispute arose, and Izzi felt that his publisher had sold him short. The dispute between author and publisher became contentious, eventually resulting in an unusual agreement. Izzi would be allowed to keep his advance, but was forbidden to publish under his own name for the next three years.
Izzi adopted the pseudonym Nick Gaitano and began his comeback with books like "A Matter of Honor" and "The Criminalist". It looked like he was back on track. However on December 7, 1996, Izzi was found dead, his body was hanging outside his Michigan Avenue writing office in the Chicago cold. When his body was discovered, Izzi was wearing a bulletproof vest. In his pockets, investigators found brass knuckles, a can of "disabling spray" (likely mace or pepper spray), and a computer disc containing an unfinished manuscript; Izzi had been working on a large manuscript at the time of his death. His death was officially ruled a suicide, but the strange manner of Izzi's death and unusual items found with his body have led to numerous conspiracy theories. Among these were claims that Izzi had infiltrated a white supremacist group and was planning to detail their activities in a future book. In addition, the bizarre scene is said to resemble one portrayed in the unfinished manuscript. He was 43.
His most successful title was also his last, The Criminalist, published posthumously in 1998. Altogether, Izzi published over a dozen novels in his life, as well as several screenplays .
Eugene Izzi Bibliography
Written as Eugene Izzi
Written as Nick Gaitano
- The Take (1987)
- Bad Guys (1988)
- The Eighth Victim (1988)
- The Booster (1989)
- King Of The Hustlers (1989)
- The Prime Roll (1990)
- Invasions (1990)
- Prowlers (1991)
- Tribal Secrets (1992)
- Tony's Justice (1993)
- Bulletin from the Streets (1995, UK only; no American edition)
- Players (1996, UK only; no American edition)
- A Matter Of Honor (1997)
- The Criminalist (1998)
- Safe Harbor (1999)
- Special Victims (1994)
- Mr. X (1995,)
- Jaded (1996) (Spent Force in the UK edition)
Go to top of page