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A Garden Of Vipers by Jack Kerley
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's review
Apr 30, 09

bookshelves: thrillers
Read in April, 2009

Kerley, Jack. A GARDEN OF VIPERS. (2006). ****. This is the third in the author’s fast-paced series featuring detectives Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus of Mobile, Alabama’s homicide squad. Once again, they catch a weird murder and activate their PSIT squad priveleges. Murders, preceded by tortures of the victim, keep cropping up, and they have to somehow find the connection among them. The first victim was a young woman reporter. The case widens to include a poisoned convict, a psychiatrist, and an older woman teacher who had been murdered four years earlier. They all appear to be the work of one madman, who changes his appearance as they are tracking him, amasses thousands of dollars in his spree, and even rents office space and starts an investment firm. All lines eventually point back to a wealthy family in Mobile, a close-knit family that is shunned by the rest of the social elite in Mobile because of their crass ways of supporting charitable efforts. The family is great on giving, but they always expect something back in return. To say that the family was dysfunctional would be an understatement. The mother rules the roost with an iron hand, but is barely able to keep the three sons from killing each other from jealosy of each others’ talents. Each of the brothers has only one basic tenet: “I, me, mine.” Ryder and Nautilus find that they aren’t alone in their pursuit of the killer, and that being cops doesn’t make them safe. It makes them targets. Ryder continues with his disappointing love life. Ava, from his last novel, has vanished into the bowels of Fort Wayne. His latest trinket is DeeDee, a newswoman from Mobile’s TV station, but that’s kind of hinky, too. By the end of the book, he finally hooks up with Dr. Claire, the chief pathologist for the city morgue. I think we saw this coming from the first novel onwards. There’s a good intertwining of plot devices here that doesn’t slow the novel down at all. Recommended.

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