Maddy's Reviews > Racing the Devil

Racing the Devil by Jaden Terrell
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's review
Jul 11, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012-reads
Read in June, 2012

SETTING: Nashville

Jared McKean is a private investigator in Nashville who was formerly a cop. He’s having a drink at a local bar when he meets a woman who looks like she’s been the victim of abuse. He feels protective toward her, and they end up having sex in a motel. That may sound like a typical guy-meets-girl-in-bar scenario, but this situation is definitely different. Jared doesn’t wake up for a day and a half since he’s been drugged. He then finds that he is the prime suspect in the murder of another woman, Amy Hartwell, who seems to have led an exemplary life. The evidence against him is incontrovertible—she was killed with a bullet from his gun; his DNA and fingerprints are all over the scene; and his voice is on her answering machine. The only trouble is that he never met her before, although everyone believes that she was cheating on her husband with him.

McKean’s investigation immediately focuses on the victim’s husband, who is a successful businessman and a bit of a religious zealot, with strong beliefs about a woman’s role in marriage. Jared comes to believe that the minister of the church that the Hartwell family attended is operating under an assumed identity and in reality is a convicted child molestor who supposedly died years earlier. Another avenue that he pursues involves Amy’s sister, with whom she had an uneasy relationship. That leads to even more complications. Jared is quite good at finding and following clues; the one thing that struck me as hokey was that he often donned disguises such as a false mustache and an different persona when interviewing people. He was good enough to just play it straight, without needing to resort that that kind of silliness.

Although the plot was excellent (and the frame-up especially so), the real strength of the book lies in the characterization. Although Jared is divorced from his first wife, they still have a lot of feelings for each other. She has remarried, and he tries hard to get along with her new husband. Their son, Paulie, has Down Syndrome; and the scenes between Paulie and Jared are heartwarming. Although Jared is straight, he is living with a roommate who has full-blown AIDS and supporting him as he struggles with his illness. And there is another somewhat tangled situation with his brother that is dealt with well. Terrell excels at depicting all of these relationships in a way that feels honest and real.

It’s hard to believe that this is a first novel. The writing is assured, and the lead character so well developed that I really look forward to meeting him again. I am a big fan of PI novels, and RACING THE DEVIL is certainly a good one!

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06/23/2016 marked as: read

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message 1: by James (new)

James Thane Sounds like another one I have to add to my list.

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