January 9, 1997 in Nation/World

Novel May Have Clue To Writer’s Death Police Wonder If Author Was Researching Fictional Escapade

Associated Press

Mystery writer Eugene Izzi, who was found hanged from his office window in a downtown high-rise a month ago, left an unpublished novel whose hero nearly dies the same way.

The Chicago Tribune, citing unidentified sources, reported Wednesday that computer discs discovered in Izzi’s pockets Dec. 7 were found by the FBI to contain the manuscript.

Like Izzi, the novel’s central character is a Chicago mystery writer with a 14th-floor office, the newspaper said. And like the fictional hero, Izzi was found hanging from a rope anchored to a metal desk in the office.

In both fact and fiction, the victim was wearing a bulletproof vest, carried a set of brass knuckles and a disabling chemical spray, and had a .38-caliber revolver in his office.

In the book, however, the hero hoists himself up the rope and shoots his assailants, members of a secret Indiana militia, the Tribune said.

Police have said that there is no evidence of foul play and that they believe Izzi killed himself. The Tribune quoted investigators as saying Izzi had been under treatment for depression.

One possibility being considered by police is that Izzi was trying to experience for himself what happens to the character in the novel, the Tribune said. Izzi told an interviewer a year ago that he would not hesitate to take dangerous chances in researching his books, the newspaper said.

Friends said Izzi, 43, had received at least one threat from a militia group. Bob Rice, a former homicide detective and friend, said Izzi once “infiltrated” an Indiana militia, but he did not know details.

An FBI spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.

The Chicago Sun-Times last summer declined to publish a piece by Izzi that was critical of militias and hate groups. In a cover letter, Izzi said he had been threatened by a militia group.

Izzi, who sometimes used the pen name Nick Gaitano, wrote “The Booster,” “King of the Hustlers” and “Tony’s Justice.” His books were twice nominated for Edgar awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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