by Michael Connelly brings back two of his best characters,
journalist Jack McEvoy, and former FBI Agent Rachel Walling.
Connelly, the master of mysteries, seems to have a ten-year-interval
between series books. This hero and heroine were first introduced
in one of the best suspense novels ever written, The Poet.
Ten years later, they came back in The Scarecrow, and now
they are partners again in this book.
"I wrote this book as a reflection on what is going on
with journalism now. This has always been an interest and
focus of mine. The last few years, there has been an era of
"fake news," and reporters labeled enemies of the
people. It has bothered me because I had been a reporter for
fourteen years. I know a free media is so important to society.
I wanted to write a story showing an unbiased and undaunted
journalist doing his job. FairWarning is a real news site
offering tough watchdog reporting on consumer issues. It is
a nonprofit founded by Myron Levin, who is Jack’s editor
in the book. I am a member of FairWarning’s board of
directors. To find out more information, just go to FairWarning.org.
I want readers to understand this is not science fiction.”
book begins with the killing of a female during a sexual encounter.
After being questioned by two police detectives, Jack McEvoy
becomes a person of interest. It seems he had a one-night
stand with the woman in the past. Against the police's warning,
Jack decides to investigate and finds that there are other
women killed in the same manner. Disguised as an accident,
they have died of atlantooccipital dislocation, a broken neck,
a fall, or other means. What links the women together is that
all of them had signed up for a DNA site called GT23. Jack
believes they were victims of cyberstalking and convinces
his skeptical editor that this indeed is a FairWarning story.
GT23 charges users only $23, explaining in the fine print
in its contracts that the low fee is possible because the
company sells data to various users. It doesn't disclose that
such companies sometimes resell the information. What the
women, DRD4, or "dirty four" have in common is that
they have an addiction gene, either alcohol, drugs, or sex.
year, I read a storyline where the Pentagon warned people
about DNA sites. I put this quote in the book, "Did you
know that this year the Pentagon told all members of the military
not to do DNA kits because of the security issues they pose?"
This sparked my imagination and interest. The old reporter
in me found this world is pretty much unregulated. The government
is studying what regulations should be put on this billion-dollar
industry. Because the government moves slowly, there has been
no oversight and leaves a place for corruption. I put my research
into the book. I like it when there is a blurred line between
reality and fiction."
he cannot investigate on his own, Jack asks his former girlfriend,
Rachel Walling, to help out. The two pick up where they left
off two years ago, both professionally and personally. Together
they find that the women’s information is sold to incel
(involuntary celibate) men, who blame women for their inability
to find sex partners. One of these women-haters is the killer
known as the Shrike. They race to find the killer before he
strikes again, putting their lives in danger.
noted, "Jack is able to connect more with readers through
his relationship with Rachel. Since this is a book about DNA,
I would say that in the center of his DNA is 'I must protect
my story from everyone,' including other reporters, the police,
his boss, and even Rachel. This is not a great way to function,
but he is set in his way. I think readers like Rachel on the
first page they meet her. There has to be a DNA gene for female
fierceness, which is what she has. She is fiercely protective
of what is important to her. She fiercely has the ideas of
fairness and righteousness. She is a great role model for
anyone that sees women as fierce fighters who stand up for
justice. I think Rachel is the ultimate hero of these stories.
She is tough and is the centerline to keep Jack from flying
out of orbit."
further stated, “They are made for each other in short
bursts because they cannot go the distance. They always seem
to be entangled with each other. Besides being a character
in her own right, she is like the carnival barker that gets
people into the Jack tent. They go in because of her. Unlike
this couple, I do not have it in my own life. I have been
happily married for 36 years. I am writing about something
that is not akin to me, which for me, makes it fascinating
to write about.”
Connelly fans will not be disappointed with this gripping
and riveting plot. The main characters are a fabulous team
that makes the story stand out. Readers will be on the edge
of their seats and can only hope that the next book with this
duo happens much sooner than later.