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Shaken

Review by: 
Catwalk
Author: 
J.A. Konrath
Genre: 
Thriller
Publication Date: 
2011
Publisher: 
eBook
Bottom Line: 
5

Former Chicago Homicide Detective Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels has seen it all, lived through it, and has the stories to tell.  She’s put away legendary serial killers, like The Gingerbread Man, but every step of the way, she’s paid a price. She’s lost friends, family, relationships, even her partner (no, actually, he’s still around. Harry’s like a cockroach that way.)

Shaken is the seventh official book in the Daniels series (though she’s been the subject of many short stories, and the series characters have found their way into additional anthologies and side projects.) She’s suffered plenty, but Konrath has always been willing to swing his heroine on a pendulum from happiness to suffering, and this story is no exception.

The author continues rolling his familiar characters; Daniels, her partner Herb Benedict, her first partner, Harry McGlade, and others, through a constant swarm of cliffhangers. He does this by bouncing across several timelines; Jack as a rookie cop, Jack and Herb as veterans, and present day – where Jack finds herself facing off with the one serial killer she’s never been able to capture; Mr. K – potentially the most murderous serial killer ever to inhabit the U.S.

Fans of the series get what they enjoy from their favorite characters. Konrath unveils events in Jack’s past that shape the character she was when she first appeared in Whiskey Sour in 2005. He treats readers to the dichotomy of Benedict in his 30’s and his 50’s, and Harry, well, some things never change. Despite the many comic turns, Konrath never lets his characters far from misery, using two decades as his playground to put them through all sorts of unpleasantries.

As always, the devil is in the details, and Konrath spares no expense. He masterfully creates a scene; whether he is describing triggers to a psychopathic killer’s childhood development, laying out the sounds and smells of dismemberment, or describing the tenements of low-rent Chicago. He describes the city as it is now, and as it was 20 years ago, with careful historic detail.  Even better are his descriptions of some of the fashion trends of the ‘80s.

Konrath uses the freedom of the eBook format to present the story in its original, non-linear format, and a second time, with the action unfolding according to the story’s timeline.  As he says, readers are welcome to comment on which they enjoy more once they’ve compared the two versions.

Shaken is a great blend of in-the-moment horror, and series fan nostalgia. Konrath knows how to put his characters through unimaginable agony, while creating a camaraderie and banter that summons belly laughs. This story is a trip down memory lane, peppered with bits of callback humor that series fans will truly enjoy.  Konrath is famous for his ability to promote his work, but not shamelessly. At no time did reading this feel like a cheap commercial to buy his previously released stories.

As mentioned in the author’s afterword, readers can expect another collaboration between Konrath and thriller author, Blake Crouch (check out a review of Crouch’s Run HERE.) Each author brings their own blend of terror and humor to the table, and their previous collaborations, including Serial, and Draculas (along with F. Paul Wilson & Jeff Strand) were very good at what they were attempting to be. (Note: Serial and Draculas were trying to be two very different things!)

Visit J.A. Konrath’s official site at: http://www.jakonrath.com.

Visit Blake Crouch’s official site at: http://www.blakecrouch.com.

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