Fair Warning (Jack McEvoy #3), by Michael Connelly

Eight stars

Dusting off one of his older protagonists, Michael Connelly presents a new piece about gritty journalist Jack McEvoy. Now working for a consumer protection news site, Fair Warning, McEvoy is visited by the LAPD about the recent murder of woman he knew in passing. The manner of death, an internal decapitation, piques McEvoy’s interest, but there is also a stalking angle that leads the reporter to think he can tie things to the site. While poking around, McEvoy learns that there have been other cases in which young women have died in a similar manner, leading him to wonder if there is a killer on the loose. Another commonality happens to be that all these women used an inexpensive DNA testing company, one with less than rigorous standards in the field of information sharing. Working alongside a former FBI agent and another investigative reporter, McEvoy begins to see a troubling pattern, as a killer deemed The Shrike is targeting these women for some supposed marker in their DNA. With no clear pattern, McEvoy must be careful, so as not to scare the killer off, but also work with the authorities to ensure his ultimate capture. Connelly develops the essence of a great thriller from the angle of an investigative reporter, a refreshing perspective indeed. Recommended to those who love thrillers in all forms, as well as the reader who is a fan of Michael Connelly’s work.

I recently read a piece of non-fiction penned by the author about his time as an investigative reporter, finding it quite imaginative and full of wonderful cases. I know Michael Connelly has used many of the stories he covered on the crime beat when writing his countless novels, but this is only the third piece in which his protagonist plays the role of journalist. Connelly brings Jack McEvoy back with much to prove, having risen to fame through his past two major cases that spawned blockbuster books. McEvoy has moved to the less exciting work of protecting consumers through his work on Fair Warning, but still takes it quite seriously. He has all the tools to be a stellar journalist and uses his sources effectively, though nothing can prepare him for some of the people that will emerge in this story. Other characters provide wonderful depth to the story, both in the world of investigations and that of DNA technology. Connelly uses them effectively to push the plot along and keep the narrative moving in various directions. The story worked well, honing in on McEvoy’s work as he tries to uncover something while staying in his lane, with some offshoot chapters that provide the reader with needed perspectives to offer a complete story. The plot builds throughout, coming to a head as this killer, The Shrike, is developed and the rationale becomes clear to all. While I do love some of the central Connelly series, this one still has life in it, something that I hope the author does not forget when writing projects cross his desk.

Kudos, Mr. Connelly, for another winner in your intertwined series. I cannot wait to see what else is coming, as I know some of your other long-forgotten characters are back in print soon!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons