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Stirred

Review by: 
Catwalk
Author: 
Blake Crouch
J.A. Konrath
Genre: 
Thriller
Publication Date: 
2011
Publisher: 
Thomas & Mercer
Bottom Line: 
5

Former Chicago Homicide Leiutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels has moved on to a new chapter in her life.  She has retired from police life and is now pregnant with the baby of a man she once arrested.  Things are not, as they say, going as expected.  Jack has no idea how to deal with her current situation.  She and Phineas Troutt became lovers out of desperation.  She is no longer a cop, and, maybe worst of all, she’s partners in a private investigation firm with her old partner, the loudmouthed Harry McGlade. An average day is challenging enough. 

When serial killer Luther Kite cuts his way back into the Chicago area with a murder dedicated to Jack, things get much worse. Luther is a soulless psychopath, linked to a long string of murders, and to a mysterious thriller novelist named Andrew Z. Thomas. Jack is not healthy, and she has only her wits, her experience, and her very bizarre combination of supporting cast to help her stay alive and to end Luther’s killing streak. This combination transforms the novel into a can’t put it down page turner; Jack, the embodiment of raw emotion, Luther, the pure killing machine – a human Great White shark.

Luther is killing off innocent victims, and providing clues about the murders to Jack, sometimes personally. He has a master plan; an epic masterpiece, that he wants to create for Chicago’s iconic crime fighter. It’s Jack fighting for something more than she’s ever been herself, and Luther putting into motion a project that he has schemed about for years. Naturally, there are some unknown elements adding to the mix, including a few more killers from Jack’s storied past. 

The story is told in a collaborative style that shifts points-of-view with each chapter. This formula allows both authors to maximize the personalized feel of the story. Viewers bounce from Jack’s head to Luther’s to others, and they are able to follow the story as it unfolds, or rather, as the authors choose to reveal it. This combination is one of the project’s strongest aspects.  While other series like Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter or Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse stay in one skull, this novel switches perspectives frequently, keeping the reader close to the story.

Jack has certainly been in danger and risked her life before, but this is by far the rawest emotional turn Konrath has taken her down. She’s not the hot shot crime solving machine from Whiskey Sour, the protective, level-headed daughter from Bloody Mary, or the one-woman DIY defend-your-family from batshit extremists that she was in Fuzzy Navel. Konrath positively tears her courage and determination to shreds.

Crouch and Konrath are well known for their incredible use of detail, and Stirred upholds that standard. In Run, Crouch consistently offered hope to his protagonists, only to rip it away and provide readers with grueling detail about their agony. That level of detail exists in all aspects of Stirred. Konrath writes scenery like a goodbye kiss to his (and Jack’s) Chicago.

Fans of the Jack series will really enjoy how true to life each character is. Every scene with Harry is a riot. (For the record, if you’re drinking Jack while reading Stirred, put your drink down before reading any Harry McGlade scene.)

The eBook is like a quality modern Blu-Ray disc, chock full of extras, as Konrath and Crouch are famous for. The first extra is an excerpt from the short story, “Shot of Tequila”, featuring Jack. The 2nd extra is an excerpt from “Desert Places”; the first novel in the Andrew Z. Thomas series. The 3rd is a piece from “Serial Killers Uncut”; which features Jack, Luther, Andrew, Lucy, Donaldson, and more. The authors also list a cast of characters, endnotes, and a face-to-face interview that will enlighten many who have read one series but not the other.

 

Grab the eBook on Amazon at THIS LINK.

 

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