Jack Carpenter is a likeable decent detective. Even though plot involves missing and abused women, the story is not too graphic. As he runs down one lead after another, confidence builds that Jack will prevail.
I have read all of James Swain's novels involving casino fraud specialist Tony Valentine and loved every one of them. When I saw that he was working on a new character in his latest novel, I was a bit concerned. I need not have been. I should have trusted Swain's talent. This book is flat out a must read thriller. I read it in a day, because I could not put the darn thing down.
Jack Carpenter is the new central character. An ex-cop, he was "allowed to leave the force" after beating up a serial killer during the course of the arrest. Simon Skell was a monster who deserved the beating that he got and although it is clear that he was involved in the murder of many young women, he is convicted of only one of them. Carpenter's testimony led to his conviction.
Carpenter, having headed up the missing persons divison for the Broward County Police Department, has become an abduction specialist which while not very remunerative, is the one thing he does very well. His marriage has foundered as a result of the scandal involving Skell and his life takes another turn for the worst at the beginning of the book as it appears that Skell, while undoubtedly a serial killer, did not murder the one victim he has been put in jail for. His release from jail is anticipated and Carpenter races against time and events to find hard evidence of Skell's complicity in the other murders.
What he discovers is much bigger than anyone had ever suspected. Michael Connelly has said that this book moves "Like a bullet train on overdrive." That's a colorful and apt description. Captain Kirk would probably say it moves at double warp speed.
It is very gratifying to see an author you already enjoy, grow further in stature and ability and Swain has certainly done that. Even better, you will find as you finish this book that there will definitly be a sequel. Hopefully, many.
Swain shifted from his already proven combination about ex-cop Valentine spoiling casino cheats to go down a darker, more sinister trail of searching out abductors. Swain's obsession for the details makes this a rich and engaging story of a down-on-his-luck cop who still has the drive to never give up despite the obstacles. You'll never listen to the Stone's song the same way again! Hope his sidekick Buster returns!
After I finished reading this book, I discovered that out of all the characters who were exciting or original, Buster the dog was the winner. Jack Carpenter, the owner of this smart canine, is a former cop out of favor with the police because he roughed up a serial killer. That didn;t make too much sense to me. This great cop was alienated because he solved a serial killer murder case and the police force and the community took issue with him because he hit the bad guy. Better he should have been nice to this sick maniac?
New evidence is found in the case that sent the bad guy to prison which may have proved that Simon Skell, the convicted killer, would be released from prison. Jack remains convinced that the Simon is the serial killer and does everything human and inhumanly possible to prevent his release and protect a woman who had testified against him. It really did not seem realistic that Simon would get out of jail free so quickly - it seemed like a few days - without benefit a very slow legal process. Simon had a snake for an attorney and a gullible ex-wife who defend him to the media. These characters did add to the mix.
I found the most interesting part of the book, besides Buster the Brilliant, was Jack's ability to find lost children. At the beginning of the book, he solved a baby snatching crime, which showed his tenacity and superb detective skills. This talent was repeated solving a lost child case at DisneyWorld. I thought the action and the movement of the frantic scenes emulated a parent's worst nightmare of a child missing.
In the middle of chasing the bad guys and finding lost children, losing all his money and possibly his life, Jack has time to reunite with his almost ex-wife. I really wanted Buster back in the scenes at that point. It is a page turner but lacked continuity and realism.
Midnight Rambler is terrifically entertaining. The subject matter of child abductions was fascinating, and the characters distinctly drawn, lovable as much for their flaws as for their gifts. In my opinion, any mystery that moves at this pace and that the reader can hardly put down is a great book! Can't wait to read the next one!