About the book (from the publisher): It begins with the kind of bizarre death that makes headlines – literally. A copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the grinding wheels of the newspaper assembly line, a wide strap wrapped around his throat. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner has her suspicions about this apparent suicide inside the tsunami of tensions that is the newspaper industry today – and when the evidence suggests murder, Maggie has no choice but to place her trust in the one person she doesn’t trust at all…
Jack Renner is a killer with a conscience, a vigilante with his own code of honor. In the past, Jack has used his skills and connections as a homicide detective to take the law into his own hands, all in the name of justice. He has only one problem: Maggie knows his secret. She insists he enforce the law, not subvert it. But when more newspaper employees are slain, Jack may be the only person who can help Maggie unmask the killer – even if Jack is still checking names off on his own private murder list.
My review: I read the first book in this series, That Darkness, and reviewed it on this blog last year. I liked it enormously and vowed to read the next book in the Gardiner and Renner series.
And here it is. These stories take place in Cleveland, a city that Black clearly knows well. As a Midwestern girl myself, I enjoy reading about this city on Lake Erie and Black’s descriptions make it come to life.
The alliance between Maggie Gardiner and Jack Renner is an uneasy one, having been forged out of necessity in That Darkness. Since they work on the same police force, it is inevitable that they will have to work together on certain cases. And here they are, thrown together in a complex mystery involving the Cleveland Herald, a newspaper hanging on to its readership by a thread, in a world where digital media is taking over and a newspaper you can hold in your hands is fast becoming a dinosaur.
Black writes about the current state of the media in great detail and I found it fascinating. We’ve seen and witnessed the pitfalls of Fake News, news that is not really news but fluff, talking heads on cable television, websites full of ads and not much content – all of them coming out of a sea change in the use of words and facts and the attention span of the audience that reads/hears them. The Cleveland Herald is no different than any other paper. Is it going to be bought by a huge corporation? What about the print process? What about the longtime employees who have skills that are no longer needed? What will happen to them?
In the middle of this, employees are being murdered. As the body count escalates, Black keeps ramping up the tension. She is a very good writer, giving us a complicated plot with lots of surprises and with an ending that is powerful. The killer is unmasked, but questions remain, questions that will be ongoing in the next book in the series.
I really like the idea of a character who is a vigilante, who takes action when there is no other recourse. How does Maggie come to terms with that? We, as readers, understand what fuels Jack as an avenger. If this were a Marvel comic, he’d be a hero.
And maybe he is.
I recommend these two books highly and look forward to the next one in the series.
About the author: New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black introduced the characters of Maggie Gardiner and Jack Renner in her acclaimed suspense novel, That Darkness. She is the author of seven novels in the Theresa MacLean mystery series and two novels written as Elizabeth Becka. As a forensic scientist in the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fiber, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she is a latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida, working mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes.
Lisa has lectured at writers’ conventions and appeared on panels, and is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. As a forensic specialist, she is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists, the International Association for Identification, the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts, and is certified Latent Print Examiner. She has testified in court as an expert witness over 65 times. Her books have been translated into 6 languages. She lives near Fort Myers, Florida.