Midnight Rambler (Jack Carpenter #1)
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Midnight Rambler (Jack Carpenter #1)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  502 ratings  ·  69 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
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Published September 4th 2007 by AudioGO
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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...more
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!
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
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...more
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
Jim A
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
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
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
An entertaining and fast-paced suspense novel.

Points for: Avoiding a big cliche. (view spoiler)...more
Dec 16, 2007 Annie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Mar 24, 2014 Richard rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like mysteries and police stories.
Recommended to Richard by: I picked up an ARC from work.
I think it's refreshing to have a cop hero that's not a drunk, still has a good relationship with his almost grown daughter and can still talk with his wife, though they are separated.

While the plot is a bit fantastic, this is a made up story.

I will be looking for his prior books.
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
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
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.
Michelle Thompson
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.
Kathy Hettrick
Dec 30, 2008 Kathy Hettrick rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Apr 02, 2008 Joyce rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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 do...it's not all happy sunshine and tourists and rum runners, that's for sure.
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.

Dana Kabel
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
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
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.
My first Swain title and I really enjoyed it. He did a great job at bringing many story lines together and tying them up very neatly. Fast paced and suspenseful. The protagonist's flawed but oh so human character was great. I will definitely be reading the rest of the "Jack Carpenter" series.
This was the first James Swain book I have read and I was NOT disappointed. It is the 1st of the Jack Carpenter series and I loved him, too. He is an ex-cop (won't spoil your read with the reason why)and he is after a serial killer. Very good, smooth, & fast read. Will definitely try another.
Joe O'c
Excellent; Continuing character: Jack Carpenter (first in series); a serial killer that Carpenter put away (and beat up resulting in him resigning from the police) is being released because of new evidence; as he tries to keep this from happening he stumbles upon a much larger conspiracy
All novels in this genre require some suspension of disbelief, but this one required just a bit more. Jack Carpenter was given clues at such a prodigious rate, it was hard to believe. Even so, the characters were good enough to keep me reading. I'll give the next in the series a shot.
Deb Mj
Hard to decide between a 4 and a 5. I'd give it a 4.5. Excellent book, with a great protagonist, terrific characters and a great dog. Will definitely look for other books in this series.

Michelle, thanks for the recommendation!
Robert Tacoma
Dec 04, 2007 Robert Tacoma rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Florida fiction and/or thrillers
I've read several of James Swain's casino cheat novels. This one is different. A thriller set in Florida with all new characters. Still reading, but it's great so far. Love the main character swimming with Lemon Sharks...
Midnight Rambler (Jack Carpenter #1) by James Swain This book kicked ass. If you like a good mystery, read this book.
Cathy DuPont
At times got a little bogged down, but I love Swain's characters. This was a little on the chilling side for my liking, but all in all, a good read. Just partial to James Swain, especially Valentine.
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James Swain is the national best selling author of fourteen mystery novels, and has been published in the United States, France, Japan, Russia, Germany and Bulgaria. 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 Americ...more
More about James Swain...
Grift Sense (Tony Valentine #1) The Night Monster (Jack Carpenter #3) Sucker Bet (Tony Valentine #3) The Night Stalker (Jack Carpenter #2) Funny Money (Tony Valentine #2)

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