by J.A. Konrath
“Jacqueline ‘Jack’ Daniels” series Book #1
Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels is an insomniac Chicago cop with a train wreck of a personal life and a stalker bent on adding her to his murder list. Join Jack, her binge-eating partner, a sleazy PI, and two very stupid FBI agents on a wild hunt for the Gingerbread Man – a killer who makes Hannibal Lector look like Huck Fin.
Whiskey Sour, the first in the Jack Daniels series, cleverly combines laugh-out-loud humor with edge-of-your-seat suspense. This is serial murder – with a twist.
Review: A laugh-out-loud, in-your-face mystery.
Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels, yes that’s her real name, you can check her ID, is a divorced, 40 something insomniac, who is good at her job. And that’s it, as far as she believes. At one point, she had it all: marriage to a great guy, a budding career… only, her ambitions took over. She became a great lieutenant detective in the Violent Crimes unit, and believes her marriage failed because of it. In her words, “it was all her fault.” Married to her career, she doesn’t have a personal life. Her latest boyfriend left a “Dear Jack” letter on her fridge, then left a message on her answering machine asking her to put his things in storage. Instead, she left them in the hall.
A new case pops up; a woman found dumped in a garbage can, um, rear-end facing upwards. Stapled to the victim, a note: “you cant catch ME IM THE GINGERBREAD MAN.” And it doesn’t end there. More bodies are found, and other than finding twine imbedded in the victims’ wrists and ankles, there are very little clues to go on. With pressure from the mayor, Jack her her partner Herb, are now stuck with two FBI agents who are sent to profile their madman, using the ViCAP computer. Only, their profile is off – way off. And nothing they get from the computer is worth a dime.
Meanwhile, tampered candy is left in her car, causing havoc and ending up with eleven stitches in Herb’s mouth. Clues have her questioning her ex-partner, and Herb convinces Jack to try Lunch Mates, a dating service. And her lucky first date ended up with a hell of a lot more than he bargained for.
**Laugh-out-loud funny is right. The deadpan jokes had me cracking up. I liked Jack. I liked her in-your-face personality, and you really get the feel for her. No buttered up and overdone descriptions, the entire story is to the point. You get her background quick and easy, and you kind of feel bad for her. Being married to her job, she believes she can’t have a personal life, yet we see her make a friend out of a criminal she’d arrested when she was still in uniform, and the new guy, who got more than he bargained for, has kept in touch, even from the hospital. I think there’s hope for her yet.
I liked her partner, pushing without being pushy. I see him as her polar opposite, yet they’re both just as determined to get the job done and see justice is served.
I liked the mystery. Even though you know who the murderer is, it was watching the good guys going after him that was really well done. Warning: at one point, it does get a little gory. But I’m a Stephen King fan, so that didn’t bother me in the least. And getting inside the killer’s mind – enough to give me a couple of shivers.
While the story is a little less than three hundred pages, you get all of what a good book is made of. I liked the fact that there wasn’t any filler – nothing that draws you away from the plot, even when hitting Jack’s personal life. Straight, to the point, and still, it involves the story. Terrific novel, and I plan on continuing the series.