Cream City Hustle: Prologue

Cream City Hustle. A Personal Finance Thriller. Available at Amazon

Near West Side. Chicago. To the casual observer, not much ever happened near the intersection of South Keeler Avenue and West Roosevelt Road. An abandoned warehouse fills one corner, stretching half a block in either direction. Empty lots littered with trash and empty bottles, long ago abandoned by would be entrepreneurs, occupy two corners opposite one another.

The last corner is home to a run-down strip mall populated by a hair salon, a barber shop, a Bar-B-Q joint and a storefront church where the Southern style gospel music that escapes through the entrance is the only source of inspiration in an otherwise grim reality. Near West Side, Chicago is not a Norman Rockwell image of America.

Chicago Police

On this sleepy Thursday afternoon however, something did happen. Anyone who had stumbled into the warehouse and back into the room that formerly housed the Human Resources department, would have been witness to justice, as administered on the cold, hard streets of Chicago. He never would have imagined, at 27 years of age, that he would pee on himself. But that was exactly what had happened. After binding his hands and feet, Drake had ordered him to his knees as he pulled out a Smith & Wesson 9mm.

“I would never steal from Caine, Drake. You know that!”

“Your lies fall on deaf ears, L.J. We know you’ve stolen and you know the price.”

As the word ‘price’ escaped Drake’s lips, L.J. saw Caine, or more accurately, Caine’s shadow enter the room. On his knees, in the middle of this room and with his head forced down by the barrel of the 9mm, he couldn’t see anything that was higher than two feet off the floor. However, the width and height of the shadow – the sheer girth – combined with the situation that brought him here, told him all that he needed to know. It was Caine. That was when his bladder betrayed him and he wet himself.

He felt the barrel of the gun move away from his head, which was followed by an indecipherable, hushed conversation just a few feet away. It was the last thing L.J. ever heard. He never knew if it was Drake or Caine that stepped quietly to him, raised the gun to the back of his head and fired that fateful shot. The single shot barely registered with those who passed by at the time.

It would be nearly three weeks before the body was found.

I will be sharing a half chapter or so of my first personal finance thriller each Sunday. Check back on Sunday, April 24th for the next installment.

Listing of Installments



Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. Hey, James. This is awesome. I’ve never heard of a personal finance thriller. Is that a genre you invented? Looking forward to the next installment. Only been to Chicago once. Don’t know what side I was on. It was the side with Wrigley Field and Lou Malnati’s. Something tells me that wasn’t the Near West Side. I feel sorry for L.J. I hope he wasn’t punished unjustly.

    • “I’ve never heard of a personal finance thriller. Is that a genre you invented?” I think so. I’ve released two books thus far – Cream City Hustle and Sin City Greed – and I haven’t really seen other books done quite the same way.

      I wanted to try writing a fictional thriller and weave in real personal finance ideas, practices, and philosophies. In Cream City Hustle I touch on student loans, debt, emergency funds and IRAs; while in Sin City Greed financial advisors, retirement income, mortgages – and of course greed – are covered.

      The books have been out for two years and one year respectively. The idea behind releasing Cream City Hustle in this format – weekly installments – is that I’m hoping to generate some interest in this style of fictional writing, and if there is enough feedback from readers as we progress, I plan to make changes to the story, based on readers thoughts/suggestions/feedback, and re-release at the conclusion. Therefore, by all means, please drop by weekly, read through each installment, and don’t hesitate to offer your thoughts.

  2. Looking forward to it.

    • Thanks for stopping by. I’m hopeful you’ll share your thoughts as I may update and re-release the book depending on reader feedback as we progress through the book. See ya next week!

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