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Midnight Rambler (Jack Carpenter #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  798 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Years ago, South Florida cop Jack Carpenter beat up a murder suspect named Simon Skell, a dangerous predator with a penchant for playing the Rolling Stones' "Midnight Rambler" as he tortured young women. When Jack lost his temper, he lost his job and his marriage, too; so as Skell's early release from prison draws near, the tarnished hero--now a specialist in missing-child ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by AudioGO
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Jun 15, 2012 Ensiform rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Jack Carpenter, ex-cop infamous for brutally beating a serial torture-killer (Simon Skell, the Midnight Rambler of the title), has become a private investigator who helps find missing children. When the body of one of Skell’s victim’s is uncovered, evidence points to another killer and Skell goes free. Immediately, Carpenter and Melinda Peters, whose evidence put him away, are in deadly peril.

Uh… I really could not believe how hilariously bad this book is. It’s just really, amazingly poorly writ
Leon Aldrich
Likeable story with Disney World thrown in. Other reviewers have commented about plausible police procedures and that Swain was better off writing about what he knows. I'm leaning in the same direction.

The FBI is NOT going to let a local take lead on a serial killer investigation. Especially if the person isn't part of the po-po.

But I was so let down from Cook's Nano that Midnight Rambler has me youtubing music videos!
Marko Jovanović
Jun 28, 2016 Marko Jovanović rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kriminalistika
Jako uzbudljiva i napeta priča, puna avanture i adrenalina. Džek Karpender je definitivno detektiv koga će ljubitelji krimića zavoleti. 4 zvezdica od mene zbog predvidljivog kraja i nekih nejasnih momenata i situacija. :)
I have read most of Swain's Tony Valentine series and enjoy them a lot. Swain apparently knows the gambling and grifting business cold and it shows in the stories. Midnight Rambler is a departure from that knowledge set, I think. His protagonist is an ex-cop who got thrown off the force for beating up a suspect. He specializes in finding missing persons, especially children. He has Bruno, a dog to provide some comic relief. It's a good story but the detail doesn't ring as authentic as his grifte ...more
Jul 02, 2015 Connie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is #1 in a Jack Carpenter Series.

This takes place in South Florida and involves women that have been abducted and have not been found. Jack has been kicked off the police force and he is kind of looking into things on his own. He is not a private investigator yet, but that may be in the works down the road.

Jack seems to be misunderstood a lot and accused of things he may or may not have done. I loved his character and am going to look for the next 2 books in the series. He left the ending
Jim A
Aug 23, 2011 Jim A rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of the Jack Carpenter series. A good place to start with this author if you haven't tried him. His Tony Valentine series is also very good but much better in the early books.

Edited to correct Valentine's first name. Thanks, Cathy
Mar 05, 2014 Joe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Midnight Rambler appears to be the first of a series featuring Jack Carpenter, a disgraced ex-cop, almost broke PI, who has a talent for finding "lost" children. The locale is the well worked ground of Southern Florida. Jack is a likeable protagonist - loving husband (although estranged from his wife), father (college age daughter) and dog owner (said dog borders on being a "partner" joining Jack on every road trip). Jack has a sense of humor, a temper, an exercise regimen, a set of seedy friend ...more
Dec 12, 2007 Annie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: thriller lovers
A patron of my librarian hubby recommended this and I read it in one sitting. It was very good and I will get more by him.

A specialist in finding missing children, former cop Jack Carpenter was fired from the force for assaulting a prisoner. Broke after a civil lawsuit and estranged from his wife and daughter, he's living in a seedy beachside apartment north of Miami, Fla., with his dog. Then Simon Skell (aka the Midnight Rambler), whom Carpenter helped convict for murdering prostitutes, is rele
Apr 26, 2009 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, the detective protagonist is a former police officer, burned out, broke, and isolated from his family and friends due to a high profile serial killer case, and yes, there is nothing new with that plot device.

Even so, I have to credit James Swain through his cliches for the mostly artful presentation, which moves the detective and the reader convincingly from the hunt for clues to bloody confrontations, and back on the hunt again. The specter of the serial killer's release (for which the det
Sep 23, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dude-thrillers
Loved it. Another book read in one single day. yum!

The only thing I didn't like was that one was left feeling as a spectator, only getting oblique views of "possible past" actions of this 'Midnight Rambler' guy. All the action was carried by his cohorts, and was discovered way later, as the author pieced it all together.

Maybe that's life, but I would have liked a more pro-active, current approach to the villain and his actions--THEN we can proceed to piecing it together and apprehending/killing
Veronica Lamb
Nov 06, 2016 Veronica Lamb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A constant barrage of excitement.

Nook. It's not over!! What an excellent read. It wasn't like a roller coaster because there wasn't any down time to catch your breath. A constant barrage of excitement. Kept me up at night. Haven't read a book this good in such a long time. What happens next?
Cheryl Sitmer
Love this author and series.
Audio version

The narrator was good but the book wasn't. Completely unrealistic police procedures and I didn't like the MC at all. Zero interest in reading anything else in this series.
Oct 19, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining and fast-paced suspense novel.

Points for: Avoiding a big cliche. (view spoiler)
Narrator: Peter Jay Fernandez

What little I listened to was so bad I could hardly believe anyone would publish it. It was incredibly lame. The book starts off with Carpenter being called on to help with an abducted baby case. Now, the protag's very, very good at solving abduction cases but no matter how - or how bad - I expect a better display of his abilities than what I got: Carpenter finds out who the main suspect is within minutes of being put on the case, goes t
May 27, 2014 Marca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am always pleased to find an author new to me whose characters I like. Jack Carpenter, a former Florida cop who now contracts out for his specialty – finding missing children, becomes re-involved in the case that cast him from the police force, the Midnight Rambler. Jack had tracked down a sadistic serial killer known as the Midnight Rambler who tortured and killed young women. Jack infamously beat the killer upon arrest and ended up losing his job. Now, it seems that he may have arrested the ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Drick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel features Jack Carpenter, an ex-cop who specializes in finding missing persons, particularly children who have been kidnapped. in this case he slowly uncovers a network of sexual predators abducting young women, mostly sex workers and killing them in a slow tortuous way while playing the Rolling Stones' "Midnight Rambler." Carpenter is a troubled and self-defeating hero, who through his tenacity breaks the ring despite indifference from law enforcement and in defiance of typical legal ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Ted rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great summer reading. Jack Carpenter is a hardboiled ex-cop with money troubles, wife troubles and professional troubles but, naturally, a noble cause that makes him a sympathetic character. He elicits bonus sympathy because he's the Florida expert on rescuing missing children and hookers with hearts of gold. Midnight Rambler is an easy, fun read, and I liked it well enough that my next purchase was the second book in this series, but Swain doesn't have the finesse of John D. MacDonald or depth ...more
Jul 03, 2010 Viccy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Former cop Jack Carpenter now finds lost kids. He specializes in it. After he beat a confession out of Simon Skell, the Midnight Rambler, he was drummed off the police force and lost his job and his marriage. The story opens with Jack finding a baby stolen out of the maternity ward. Then, the body of a former prostitute, one of the Midnight Rambler's victims, is found in the wrong place. Skell is released from prison and Jack is a marked man. Jack has to solve the murders of Skell's eight other ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 in the Jack Carpenter series. Finalist 2008 Barry Award for Best Thriller. Jack Carpenter is the former head of Broward County Missing Persons Unit, now a private investigator.

Jack Carpenter tracked down serial killer Simon Skell, the Midnight Rambler. In the process, he was forced to resign his badge for assaulting the suspect. Now the body of the last victim has been uncovered where Skell could not have left it and Skell is about to be released from prison. Jack is still convinced Skell is
Apr 03, 2013 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot of people that have written reviews of the Jack Carpenter series seem to not like the fact that a lot of what Jack does in the books doesn't seem plausible. That is true but none the less it hasn't kept me from enjoying the series even though I somehow started with number three and worked my way backwards to number one. I enjoyed this book and the other two I read very much. I'm looking forward to reading the fourth in the series as well as James Swain's other books.
Laura Belgrave
Swain knows how to tell a good story with compelling characters and a plot that moves quickly, with just enough twists to keep the reader wondering how everything will end. Midnight Rambler is one of those and at various points it’s downright hard to set aside.

There are no “greater truths” or intriguing metaphors in the book. The story is all about entertainment, and on that level it delivers.

Apr 25, 2008 Mo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gritty, gruesome, gripping and grotesque. I'm not a huge reader of mysteries, but this grabbed me right away. It's set in South Florida and told at a breakneck pace with very simple and clear writing. I really enjoyed Swain's other novels, mostly set in Vegas, and I always forget that he's a fellow Floridian. He really gets Florida like few other writers's not all happy sunshine and tourists and rum runners, that's for sure.
Apr 01, 2008 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thriller fans
This is one of those books you can't put down once you start it. Jack Carpenter is a great hero...a no longer cop who used to head the missing persons division in Broward County who is now broke, familyless and convinced he is right about a serial killer who is about to be released from prison. He even has a dog! The plot is fast moving. The novel is well written. I'm going to check out Swain's other books. Hopefully they will be as good.
Kathy Hettrick
Dec 30, 2008 Kathy Hettrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
I stumbled across this book via a review in the Sunday St. Pete Times. It is the store of a former south Florida police detective, that specialized in missing persons, particularly children, and because of politics was thrown off the force.

This is the first book of what might prove to be an ongoing series dealing with this particular form of crime. This first book was pretty good, and time will tell if the author can maintain the readers interest for multiple books.
Aug 20, 2012 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack Carpenter is infamous. He captured the Midnight Rambler serial killer but sacrificed his career and his marriage doing so. He's now a missing persons specialist, reuniting children with their parents. Suddenly one of the Midnight Rambler's victims is unearthed in her sister's yard and it appear that she wasn't really his victim so he is going to be released. Jack is being set up...but how and who? He races against the clock to reaffirm this case before one more victim is brutally murdered.
Dana Kabel
Mar 17, 2013 Dana Kabel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series has been compared to John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series. Not quite in the same league, but then what is?

Still, it's pretty damned good stuff. If you want some dark stories set in Florida without a side of dry humor; look no further. It's refreshing to read something set in Florida that isn't a blatant Dutch Leonard copy or goes with a Jimmy Buffet soundtrack.
Yvonne Mason
Jan 19, 2009 Yvonne Mason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Swain is a Florida author who puts the reader inside the mind ofthe criminal as well as the good guy Jack Carpenter. He keeps the story flowing with twists and turns and things that jump out when you least expect it. Jack has his own set of issues to deal with as he tries to find who is killing women.
James is a fellow Florida Author who should be on anyone's shelf
Jun 08, 2016 Jmrathbone rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Eighty-one percent of the people who reviewed this book on gave it 4 or 5 stars. Only 18% gave it 3 stars and below. I was taken in by these numbers and bought this book. I should have known better because I had read “Deadman’s Poker” and gave it one star so I don’t know why I would read another James Swain book. I won’t make the same mistake and by a third.
Jul 03, 2009 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never read anything by this author previously, and picked this book up because the synopsis sounded good. I wasn't disappointed. A fast-paced, edge-of-your seat detective novel, this page turner draws you in from the first sentence. I look forward to reading "The Night Stalker," the next in the Jack Carpenter series.
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James Swain is the national best selling author of seventeen mystery novels, and has been published in twelve different languages. His books have been chosen as Mysteries of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, and have received three Barry Award nominations, a Florida Book Award for Fiction, and France’s prestigious Prix Calibre .38 for Best American Crime Fiction. Born in Huntingto ...more
More about James Swain...

Other Books in the Series

Jack Carpenter (4 books)
  • The Night Stalker (Jack Carpenter #2)
  • The Night Monster (Jack Carpenter #3)
  • The Program (Jack Carpenter #4)

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