Sunday, November 2, 2008

Whiskey Sour - J.A. Konrath

2004; 289 pages. Genre : Murder Mystery. Overall Rating : B-
A serial killer is abducting young women, playing Operation on their torsos, and dumping their naked bodies butt-cheek-upwards into local 7-11 dumpsters. Police Lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels tries to find the common link, and catch the self-dubbed Gingerbread Man before all of Chicago goes into a panic.
What's To Like...
If you like James Patterson's "Alex Cross" detective novels (that's before he went all sucky with his "Maximum Ride" stuff), you'll like J.A. Konrath. The killings are tastefully lurid (which is probably an oxymoron), and Konrath also mixes in a bit of punnish humor. Jack Daniels is non-stereotypically middle-aged and average-looking.
An example of the Whiskey Sour wit :
"He may be disfigured or disabled. He might have severe acne scars, or scoliosis."
"That's a curvature of the spine," Dailey added.
"Is that a hunch?" I asked.
"Just an educated guess."
I thought about explaining the joke to them, but it would be wasted.
On the other hand...
There are several places where you just go, "Am I expected to believe that?" For instance, our protagonist's police car is broken into, and a bag of candy is left on the seat. Suspicious? Nah. Damiels' partner tears into the bag without any hesitation and falls for the old razor-blade-in-the-candy-bar trick.
Then there's the "lucky break" itself. Interviews of the victims' family and friends get the usual response : "So-and-so was just the sweetest person around. Ww can't think of anyone who would want to kill her." Yet when the connecting link is finally found, it's something that even a remote acquaintance would recall and instantly think of as a motive for murder.
Then there's the clichés...
The books is riddled with them. Some, such as the two clueless FBI agents with their computer-generated profiling, are obviously deliberate. Ditto for the doughnut-loving partner of Daniels, who IMHO is ripe for killing or severe-hospitalization is some sequel.
But the not-so-deliberate clichés can be annoying. The oh-so-confident psychopath decides to also include our heroine on his hit-list. Gee, that's worked what - zero percent of the time - in the past? This naturally results in our heroine being pulled off the case. Which of course never stops any cop from staying involved one bit. Then there's the poor schluck who goes out on an arranged date (by MatchMakers, Inc., IIRC) with Daniels. Yeah, that's a ironclad guarantee for bodily harm by the jealous stalker.
Finally, there's Daniels herself. She's a burnt-out, workaholic, insomniac whose marriage was ruined by her devotion to the job, and who drinks way too much. Sometimes I think that is de rigeur for fictional detectives .
A little bit about J.A. Konrath...
Konrath's website is at His bio claims he wrote nine novels and received more than 500 rejections for them before #10 (Whiskey Sour) was finally accepted/published. He has done 612 book-signings in 28 states, and has sent 7,000 letters to libraries touting his books. I'd say he paid his dues.
If you visit his website, you'll be able to read the first seven chapters of most of the books in his Jack Daniels series (5 of them, I think). Except for Whiskey Sour itself, whch you can download in its entirety as a pdf file. Gotta love that.
In conclusion, this was a bit of enjoyable light reading. It doesn't strive to be anything more than an entertaining story, and to that end, it succeeds. We'll give it a B- and hope that the sequels have a few more twists and a few less stereotypes.
Whiskey Sour (A Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels Mystery)
By: J. A. Konrath
Amazon Price: $6.99

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Double kudoes to you for mentioning my book. :D

5 chapters to go...then we'll get to see how many rejection letters MatchMakers, Incorporated picks up, haha!