Mihir's Reviews > Stirred

Stirred by J.A. Konrath
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's review
Jan 07, 2012

really liked it

Review originally at Fantasy Book Critic

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Stirred is a book for which both authors have been building up anticipation for their reading audience. The first collaboration between both these authors was “Serial” which was a download bonanza, and was the stepping stone in regards to the unification of their individual written worlds. Following in that direction, the authors soon expanded their collaborative efforts with Serial Uncut, Killers, Birds of Prey, etc… All of these books along with newer material were combined into a single volume called Serial Killers Uncut, which was a huge success as well as loved by the fans. I especially liked the book and was waiting to see how it would end in Stirred as I also read Shaken the penultimate book in the Jack Daniels series. Before starting on with the review for Stirred, I’ll do a brief overview of Shaken before proceeding to the review.

Shaken was released earlier this year and is the seventh book in the Jack Daniels series, what was especially special about this book was that it had qualities of a prequel and sequel bundled smoothly within. The story has three distinct threads featuring Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels in three different time periods of her life, the first time period is set twenty years ago, the second timeline being focused on events three years ago and lastly the third plot is set in present day. The focus of the story was on Mr. K, a killer of note and one who has refined his methods over decades. The three timelines showcase Jack struggles with him in these various time-periods. The best part about the book is its ending and how it ties into this book, via the presence of Luther Kite who has set his sights on Jack as he sees her as his ultimate competitor via bonds of alpha predators.

There’s also a tie-in to this book via several chapters from Serial Killers Uncut as Luther, Donaldson & Lucy return and are worse for the wear. The story begins with Jack who is now nearly eight and half months pregnant, this however hasn’t necessarily dulled her senses and she is now even more alert. Due to reasons revealed in the climax of Shaken, Jack’s friends and everyone around her is hyper alert for the presence of Luther Kite and his plans. The biggest problem is while Jack is about to deliver, she just plain refuses to accept her physiological condition thereby further endangering her own life as well as that of her baby. Luther on the other hand has been rather inspired by Dante and his most famous work and goes about his enigmatic ways to recreate the nine circles of hell in an abandoned are of the country as well targeting several other individuals to raise the stakes of his grand plan. Thus begins the final chapter in the worlds of Jack Daniels and Luther Kite, wherein only one predator can survive and for that to happen the other must be terminated as that is the only way to survive.

This book while building upon the two previous titles does its absolute best to out thrill both the previous titles. This book is supposedly the end to not just one but two series of two different authors. Not only does it raise the stakes twice over but it also raises the question how effectively two authors can jointly write a saga and manage to make their numero uno character come out on top. As a fan of the Jack Daniels series, it was hard to imagine what fate would befall her however in the back of my mind, I knew J.A. Konrath planned to write a series about Jack’s grandson thereby ruining the surprise a bit but knowing the author’s deviousness and previous book plots, it could have very well turned out that Jack could still be dead and her baby might survive.

This book’s strongest point is in its visceral twists and turns, Luther Kite strongly moulds the story alongside his devious plan that causes Jack and her friends but the readers as well to rack their brains as to what might be his ultimate aim. This aspect along with the plot’s express pace is what makes this book an excellent thriller as well as one of the best serial killer titles. The authors have to be lauded for their ingenuity in coming up with all the twists for this tale and also for planning the ultimate twist in the climax of this story. I had raised a question in regards to a certain plot occurrence in Serial Killers Uncut, which was severely contradicted by events taking place in Shaken. I had raised this query in my review and also asked Blake Crouch for clarification, to which he had replied that everything will be revealed in Stirred and to my surprise it was. The contradiction plays perfectly into the massive twist planned by the authors and kudos to them for planning and executing it. All in all this I couldn't put down the book once I started it and as far as thrillers go, this is what every thriller aims for.

As for as any negative points to this book, I couldn't find many. Some readers might take umbrage with some of the twists as well as some of the things which occur might be near impossible for a nearly full term woman to do all of which Jack Daniels does. But if we start questioning too much into these events, the thriller aspect might just fall apart completely. I think that while such issues can be detrimental to the story they can’t be completely ignored. Take the book for what it is, a thriller book featuring serial killers of the most depraved kind and a cop who hunts them at the expense of her own life as well as that of her near & dear ones. It’s not a medical manual about what severely pregnant females can and cannot do.

CONCLUSION: A fitting finale to two series and with more action and intrigue packed in it to satisfy the most veteran readers. Stirred brings a strong, emotionally satisfying end to a saga of various characters with almost no room for ennui of any kind. Once again J.A. Konrath & Blake Crouch effectively show why they can be counted upon in the future to write plots mixing cerebral & visceral thrills and to thoroughly entertain their fans.
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