(reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer JUL 3, 2004)
Lieutenant Jack (Jacqueline) Daniels has been a detective for a long time, but never before has she seen such a horrible murder. Right away she knows that the killer, who calls himself The Gingerbread Man, will kill again. What she doesn’t know is that The Gingerbread Man has been planning this for a long time, and that he intends to kill four young women in a week...and, when her efforts to catch him mirror, in his sick mind, the way his four intended victims treated him, she becomes an added bonus, a target too delicious to pass up.
This book is extremely rich in both character and tension. I’ll cover character first...Jack is a woman who’s been divorced for 15 years; she regrets losing her husband to her job. She’s just been dumped by her live-in boyfriend, who she didn’t love, but appreciated the companionship he provided. She feels lonely, like she’s throwing the best parts of her life away in her pursuit of working each case to the fullest. Her worries and regrets echo inside the reader, but don’t overwhelm the story line. It gives this edgy, extremely funny woman a soft place that you can emphasize with, which makes your understanding of her, and your enjoyment of her sense of humor and actions stronger. The banter she shares with her partner, and her low opinion of the Feds, all mark some of the funniest parts of the book.
Here’s a quote that perfectly shows her humor, which mixes an understanding of human behavior with a slightly jaded practicality as Jack goes inside to interview the owner of a convenience store, who has just found the mutilated body of a young woman. He seems much more concerned over the fact he’s closed temporarily than the fact that someone got murdered, and she says to us, “Much as I longed to pity the man and his temporary loss of income, I held firm and didn’t break into tears.”
Now, for the plot...the tension is really constant in this book, relieved once in awhile by the humorous aspects. Early on the killer targets Jack, and the first thing he does is particularly scary...he takes a bag of candy, such as you would have bought last Easter, and carefully doctors all but four pieces. He leaves this candy in her car, and her partner opens the bag, eats one of the untainted pieces... even mentions passing the candy out at the kids ward, since they’re going to the hospital. You just sit there and wait and worry as he takes out a piece...shudder. I am so going to break the next candy bar in half before I eat it. Maybe slice it thin with a butter knife. This scene is the first of many in which we see things from the killer’s perspective part of the time, and knowing what he’s plotting, having him act on it, then going back to the first person with Jack and knowing that he’s literally lurking near by makes for some page turning moments.
Jack has been likened to Kinsey Millhone and Stephanie Plum...both very good comparisons as Konrath does recreate that type of sensible/humourous narrative. I also liken her to Mercie Raybourne, who, while she doesn’t have that same humorous edge, she does have the same sort of pensive regret. Fans of these type of books will truly adore sitting down and having a drink with Jack Daniels.
- Amazon readers rating: from 930 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Whiskey Sour (2004)
- Bloody Mary (2005)
- Rusty Nail (2006)
- Dirty Martini (2007)
- Fuzzy Navel (2008)
- Cherry Bomb (2009)
- Shaken (2011)
- Stirred (2012)
- Last Call
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- Official website for J.A. Konrath
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About the Author:
J.A. Konrath has written for cable TV, performed improvisational comedy and has designed award-winning websites. He lives with his wife and three children in Chicago, Illinois.