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Whiskey Sour, J.A. Konrath, Hyperion, $21.95.

Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

If there's a formula for a bestseller, it probably doesn't get any closer than Whiskey Sour. Snappy characters, crisp dialogue, a plot that doesn't let up, and a creepy serial killer all ensure that J.A. Konrath's first novel is a whiz bang fun summer read. If you're headed for the beach or an airplane, Whiskey Sour is a great bet. The main character, homicide detective Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels, is a smart, no-nonsense woman whose egotistical boyfriend has just left her in the lurch. She's kind of resigned to it, though. Her partner, Herb Benedict, older, fatter, and not necessarily wiser than Jack, is a good and refreshingly unromantic foil. The two partners have good chemistry. Unbeknownst to either Herb or Jack, Jack is being followed by the same creepy serial killer whose "work" they are investigating.

Konrath uses a lot of clever clues and includes lots of solid police work. He also puts the no-nonsense Jack in jeopardy, and sorely tests the new man she meets through a computer dating service called Lunch Mates (I'd be surprised if he was still interested in her - she puts her ex boyfriend's new girlfriend in a hammerlock on their first date). Flipping back and forth between the mind of the killer and the work of Jack and her partner ratchets up the suspense factor; but the creepiness factor is high here too. I usually don't like to know what a killer is thinking - I'd rather read about how he's caught - but it's certainly an effective narrative hook. What sets this book apart is the character of Jack Daniels, who is funny and smart. Konrath has fleshed her out to the degree of including a former cop mother who was a crack shot and something of a legend in the department. Now retired, she lives in Florida, and the conversations Jack has with her were some of my favorite parts of the book. I hope she'll be a recurring series character.

What also sets this book apart is the humor - it's there on every page, sometimes hitting, sometimes missing, but unrelenting - it's hard not to give in to this book's very high likability factor.


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