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The Night Monster: A Novel of Suspense Hardcover – September 15, 2009

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14th Deadly Sin
Third in the Women's Murder Club series: As violence sweeps through San Francisco, Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends must risk their lives in the name of justice—before it's too late. Read more about authors James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345515463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345515469
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #726,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spock-like logic and a bullet-train–paced plot drive Swain's third thriller to feature Florida PI Jack Carpenter (after Midnight Rambler and Night Stalker). When Carpenter fails to stop the brutal abduction of his daughter's college basketball teammate, he's painfully reminded of a serial abduction case he bungled 18 years before. Unearned guilt makes this latest case personal. Half-wit giant Lonnie and fellow inmate/mentor Mouse escape from an asylum for the criminally insane, and start seizing student nurses. Lonnie twice nearly kills Carpenter, once by tossing a 400-pound Coke machine at him. Carpenter's (and pooch Buster's) dogged search takes them to a small, eerie Florida townwhere the victims have been imprisoned. Bullets predictably fly when Carpenter's FBI friend, Ken Linderman, whose daughter has been abducted, pitches in to help. This installment grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until the last page. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Easily a top candidate for best crime novel of the year.”
—Lansing State Journal
“Starts on an adrenaline high and never loses steam. [James] Swain excels at sturdy storytelling and intelligent plotting.”
—South Florida Sun-Sentinel

From the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

The Night Monster was a pretty good read, keeping me turning the pages through the end.
Amazon Customer
The story is interesting, the characters are well defined, the writing is tight, and the suspense is constant.
Paul W. Cummins
Some of the plot seems a bit silly but the book traverses a lot of interesting ground as well.
Bonnie Brody

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By CRP Ag on August 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I LOVE this book. I have read several books through the Amazon Vine program, and I always try to pick authors I am not familiar with. Some have been good, some not so much, THIS is a great suspense novel.

I am not one who believes that the opening line of a story is critical, that said, this one is pretty darn good. Title, The Night Monster, opening line, "Cops weren't supposed to get frightened." How great is that, it just conjures up a picture of a police officer encountering something in the line of duty so beyond his comprehension and experience, he is afraid, or as the case develops, terrified by a life altering event.

As a brief summary, the story is presented in the first person by Jack Carpenter, a former detective. Jack works on finding missing people. To characterize Jack as tenacious is really selling him short. He is willing to do anyting to find and save a missing person. The zeal lead to his early departure from the police force.

Jack's story shows us the bare emotional journey that a parent seaching for a missing child can go through. We can feel the pain and anguish. Jack is not a superhuman, he is not robocop, just a driven guy who wants to make a difference.

This is a super page turner, you will not be able to put it down. I recommend this without hesitation or reservation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Avellanet VINE VOICE on July 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Yes, you will be up all night finishing this book if you plan on starting it any time after 8pm. So be forewarned.

From the opening chapter, with the search for a missing elementary school child, the story burns from one moment to the next. Admittedly, the main character's set up is a cliche - the ex-cop turned private eye with a laser-focus on his expertise (in this case, finding missing kids). But as John Gardner once wrote, All American fiction boils down to one of two plot lines - man rides into town or man rides out of town - it's what the author does with that story that counts. And boy does James Swain deliver.

Once you read that first bit of chapter 3 as the main character, Jack Carpenter, is searching for a missing boy, you know this is not your typical hard-boiled ex-cop story: "Water has a magical effect on autistic children. It calls to them like a siren's song. I found this out...."

This is not your standard cliched ex-cop whose life is on a downward slope; he's got good parts of his life (his relationship with his daughter) and some not so good (his relationship with his estranged wife). Throughout the story, Jack tries to reclaim his life. Sometimes it works and sometimes, well the typical "Hollywood story-telling" does not appear, making his frustrations and experiences much more real (like when Jack tries to buy his old house).

The story is fantastically paced, the writing is well done, and the unique twists will definitely catch you a bit off guard. Just an excellent, suspenseful mystery, and extremely well worth your time.

I'd not read any of James Swain's books before this; now I'll be reading them all.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Cunningham on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm thinking I must have read a different book than the one that has been featured in all these positive reviews.

Jack Carpenter is a former cop who now works as a PI specializing in finding missing children. The problem is he behaves as if he is one man police force and we're supposed to feel sorry for him when he ends up getting himself in a heap of trouble while making the desperate situation of kidnap victims even worse. with his foolhardy antics.

I should have sensed trouble when he singlehandedly rescued a lost autistic child from the jaws of an alligator. I mean, who does that and comes out of it with a few scrapes and bruises? Then during this daughter's collegiate basketball game he tries to apprehend a man suspected of stalking the team when he gets distracted...actually he stops interrogating the guy to cheer when his daughter makes the winning basket... then the guy knocks him to the ground and escapes. What a dope! He's in the middle of apprehending a suspect and stops to cheer his daughter?

To make matters worse he gets up, chases the guy down, finds his van in the parking lot. While standing behind the van, completely exposed and with his gun drawn, he uses his cell phone to ask his police buddy to run the plates. He doesn't ask for back up and doesn't let the police know that he may have tracked down a stalker. So what do you think happens? The stalker and his extra large accomplice (Carpenter refers to the accomplice as a "giant" because of his great physical size) see him standing behind the their vehicle asking the police to run their plates, so they get out of the van, and the "giant" (a ridiculous character who speaks like the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk and Darth Vader), beats Carpenter to a pulp.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr Beverly R Vincent VINE VOICE on January 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
James Carpenter is the classic noir private detective -- a man so obsessed by his profession that he has alienated everyone in his life, including his now-ex wife and his previous employers, the police department. He lives in a room over a bar. His only friend is his dog, Buster, although he maintains a good relationship with his college-aged daughter.

Nearly twenty years ago, he made several rookie mistakes when responding to a domestic violence call, including failing to call for backup. Carpenter was disarmed and beaten by the perpetrator, a monster of a man. He didn't even get the license plate number of the vehicle that took the young woman away. The case was never solved, the kidnap victim never found.

As a way of atoning for his failure, Carpenter joined Missing Persons, until he was drummed out of the Broward County Sheriff's Department two years ago for using excessive force. Though his relationship with the police is strained, they often turn to him when children go missing. His ability to solve those cases borders on the eerie -- or the eerily convenient. Unfortunately, the author James Swain has chosen to make Carpenter virtually infallible when he tackles one of these cases.

Carpenter's daughter, who plays for the Florida State Lady Seminoles basketball team, thinks a stalker may be filming them. At their next game, Carpenter chases away a man with a video camera, and that night one of his daughter's teammates is kidnapped. Once again, Carpenter is unable to prevent the crime, which involves the same gigantic culprit from long ago. Carpenter can wrestle alligators but he can't lay a hand on this monster.

A lot of what happens in The Night Monster is strains credibility. Though Carpenter is low on money, he can pay for valet parking.
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More About the Author

James Swain is the author of fifteen national bestselling novels. His novels have been translated into twelve foreign languages, and chosen as Mysteries of the Year by Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Swain has received three Barry Award nominations, a Florida Book award for fiction,the prestigious Prix Calibre .38 for Best American Crime Writing, and was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning with Anthony Mason. Along with his writing, Swain is an avid magician, and has written and lectured extensively on the subject. Visit his web site at

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