Feb 07, 11
More gore than grins!
Shaken is the seventh novel featuring Chicago cop Jacqueline (Jack) Daniels. Over her 25-year career Jack has been frustrated in several attempts to capture a serial killer known as Mr. K, who is described as “the essence of evil” for his extreme sadism . Over 200 murders have been attributed to him; in Shaken Jack is captured by Mr. K and seems destined to be his next victim.
The book is told in a fairly complicated series of flashbacks beginning when Jack was in the police academy in 1985 and continuing until 2010. The flashbacks show Jack’s development as a person and a law enforcement officer and her past encounters with her nemesis. Jack is an enjoyable character, and I could see myself enjoying a series about her career.
But not this one. This was my first (and last) Jack Daniels thriller (which probably made me less distressed by the somewhat inconclusive ending than I would normally be). For me the basic problem is that the series suffers from bad packaging. The books in the Jack Daniels series come in brightly colored covers, with fanciful names like Cherry Bomb, Fuzzy Navel, and Rusty Nail. Their descriptions use words like “blend of suspense and dry humor” ( Shaken )and “perfect for readers who like their mysteries with a shot of humor” (Fuzzy Navel). And a blurb on the back of Shaken says Jack is “smarter than Stephanie Plum.” Would it be unreasonable from this for a reader to expect something a bit light, along the lines of Evanovich? This is hardly the case---this book would be enough to send Stephanie back to selling lingerie!
It is not surprising to find violence in a book about a serial killer, but the homicidal depravity is described in much too much detail for my taste, and the gratuitous tastelessness in passages such as when Jack’s partner makes fun of a murder victim’s breast implants is just plain offensive.
If you have a high tolerance for the gruesome, you might like Shaken. If you have doubts, I’d recommend you read the first two pages of the free preview on the Amazon site; they accurately set the tone for the book.