Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Monday, October 13, 2008

Whisky Sour, J.A. Konrath

This review was originally published on Mack Pitches Up. I will be posting a review of the next in the series shortly.

I listened to rather than read this book. This audio version from is an excellent production. Susie Breck and Dick Hill expertly provide the voices of multiple characters.

Whisky Sour is the first in JA Konrath's Jack Daniels series, now up to five and all using drinks as titles. Jacqueline (known to everyone as Jack) Daniels is a lieutenant in violent crimes in the Chicago Police Department. With her partner Herb Benedict, Jack is called to the scene of a homicide. The mutilated body of a woman was found in a trash can outside a convenience store. She had been tortured before dying. More bodies are found and the police find that they have a serial killer who calls himself The Gingerbread Man on their hands. The killer becomes fixated on Jack, leaving her letters and targeting her as one of his victims. Mixed in with the fast-paced search to catch a killer before another life is lost is Jack's personal life which is a shambles. Her live-in boyfriend left her for a personal trainer and Jack finds herself considering a dating service to achieve some semblance of a normal life.

The story moves along briskly with the appropriate sense of urgency. The search for the link between the victims is well done and interesting. Nothing suddenly appears to reveal all. The reader develops a feeling for Jack's character and the inclusion of her personal life makes her more human. The killer is seriously demented and creepy. Konrath has a flair for writing scenes of action, gore, and violence.

I started this book when it first came out. At the time I was so annoyed by what I considered inconsistencies in character and some other elements that I stopped reading after a couple of chapters. This time around the inconsistencies are less important and certainly not serious enough cast the book aside.

There is only one aspect of Whiskey Sour that still seriously annoys me, the treatment of the FBI. It is a common theme in crime fiction for local law enforcement to be hostile to FBI and call them the "feebs" or "feebies." That mostly isn't the case in real life I gather - I asked Lee Lofland, a retired detective who did work with the FBI on cases. What I didn't like in the story was making the FBI agents buffoons and using profiling and the VICAP system as a source of humor. The profiles go beyond unlikely, they are absurd. Still, this is a minor aspect of the story, used for comic relief, and I acknowledge this as a personal pet peeve that other readers might not share.

I did enjoy Whiskey Sour and recommend it to readers of police procedurals and serial killer stories. After listening to this book I downloaded the other four in the series from Audible.