Why did I get it: I needed a major change of pace reading-wise.
How I would rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.
Chicago cop Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels has chased, and caught, dozens of dangerous criminals over the course of her career. But she’s about to meet her match.
When Jack wakes up in a storage locker, bound and gagged, she knows with chilling certainty who her abductor is. He’s called “Mr. K.” More than two hundred homicides have been attributed to him. His victims have died in the most horrible ways imaginable. He’s the essence of evil. Some think he’s just an urban legend. But he’s real. Jack has tangled with him twice in the past, and both times he managed to slip away.
Now Jack will finally have a chance to confront the maniac she’s been hunting for over twenty-five years. Unfortunately, it won’t be on her terms. In less than two hours, Mr. K is going to do to Jack what he’s done to countless others. And Jack is going to learn that sometimes the good guys don’t win…
Review: (Note: This review contains some major spoilers.)
Over all, this was a refreshing trek into Mystery and Horror as well as a much needed respite from Romance. I really like Konrath’s writing style and have for quite some time now. You always can count on his books to give you something new, something demented, and something fun. I think he’s incredibly imaginative and I love the crazy serial killers he comes up with. My favorite aspect of all his books though is his ability to combine the horrifically disturbing things with comic ones in a very successful way.
Although I’m slightly behind on the Jack Daniels’ series, I was not so far behind as to not get various hints or sort of inside jokes along the way as the book jumped from 1989, 2007, and 2010. The time jumps were great and one of my favorite aspects of this book. The insight into younger Jack was neat all around and watching her struggle to catch and escape from the same serial killer was pretty fascinating. All of the minor characters were great too. I especially loved the exchanges between Phin, Herb, and Harry.
My major issue was with a plot point taking place in 2010 and involving the horrific experience Jack was under-going. At first all of the violence was a bit on the crazy side and sort of what one would expect from Konrath and from a book featuring a serial killer without a cause, but then it was revealed that Jack was pregnant and… ugh. Just ugh. It was such a derailing detail for me and it really annoyed me. Not because I’m a “girl” or because I have a weak stomach, but because it’s such an easy way to solicit an emotional response from a reader. And I’m not a big fan of easy.
Thankfully, it seemed to be a necessary element because the next book ends this series and I’m sure that’s part of why the baby was featured or even mentioned. A struggle for Jack since the beginning of her career has always been her personal life versus her professional life and how much it suck for anyone she knows when those two things come in direct contant with one another. But I also felt like part of it was there to get the same sort of reaction as you’d be expected to make if you saw a horror movie where, just when you couldn’t care less care about the woman in the haunted house who is about to be ripped into pieces by demonic wraiths, you find out she’s pregnant and suddenly you’re much more emotionally engaged in her survival. So on one hand, I like that Jack is having a baby and on the other, it was more than enough to know Jack was going to be tortured to death and I didn’t need that whole extreme situation ramped up a notch. It all boils down to timing and personal preference, but I definitely think it would have been better to have the issue of pregnancy come up when Jack was not on a St. Catherine’s Wheel.
I also have to admit that the new major bad guy coming from a completely different series that is mostly by a different author mildly irked me. And it can only be a mild irration because I enjoyed Shaken and ultimately I’ll just have to see what happens in Stirred before I can have a strong feeling one way or the other. And yet I see it as problematic because I feel like this series should be Jack’s series. If there’s only one book left, I don’t want her to share the spotlight with someone else’s serial killer all that much. And I’m okay with the good guys not always winning, but as a reader I don’t want to see Jack come to a bad end.
In conclusion, very enjoyable, engaging, and disturbing. There were distracting elements that I could have done without, but I definitely think this book was worth reading. I would, however, caution readers unfamiliar with Konrath or the other names he writes under to maybe start with earlier books and see how that goes first.