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WHISKEY SOUR: A Jack Daniels Mystery
By Joe Konrath
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
Lieutenant Jack Daniels of the Chicago Police Department is one tough lady, with bad taste in men and cars -- her guy just left her for his personal trainer and her ride is a 1986 Nova -- and good fashion sense -- Armani blazers and silk blouses. Jack, nee Jacqueline, is assigned the case of the Gingerbread Man killer, a sweet name for a monstrous butcher who's been dumping the mutilated bodies of pretty young women in convenience store garbage cans. He leaves taunting notes stapled to the corpses along with a cheerful gingerbread cookie, and he quickly develops a personal interest in Jack that makes for some harrowing situations along the way.
Konrath has a deft touch with characters: Jack comes across not just as a kick-butt crime fighter but a real person with flaws and strengths and great resilience. Other memorable characters: Herb Benedict, her partner, a fine detective with a bottomless stomach; Phineas Trout, a former collar who becomes her pool-playing buddy, a young man who can really watch her back in a bar fight; and Jack's mom, a retired policewoman, who taught her daughter how to apply lipstick and to shoot straight.
Konrath does an excellent job of putting the reader into the killer's twisted mind. While some of the descriptions of the crimes are graphic and dark, there is a strong dose of humor throughout the story. Konrath has a lot of fun with the two FBI agents, who, in their attempts to profile the Gingerbread Man, finally end up suggesting the killer is a Canadian Mountie. He is gracious enough to admit they do have some redeeming qualities, though, which is probably a good idea in these times.
This is a remarkable debut novel, and I predict that we'll be hearing a lot more about Konrath. If this first book is any indication, he has a bright future as a writer. Pour yourself a tall one and investigate the world of Jack Daniels.
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