2009; 278 pages. Book 6 (out of 11) in the Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels series. New Author? : No. Genre: Thriller; Crime Fiction; Women Sleuths. Overall Rating : 8*/10.
It’s showdown time. Both parties agree on that, and both agree that it is going to be a fight to the death. On one side, there’s Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels of the Chicago Police Department. On the other there’s Alexandra “Alex” Kork, psychotic killer nonpareil.
Alex has good cause to hate Jack; half her face is permanently disfigured by Lt. Daniels. But Jack has an equally just cause to hate Alex, since the latter just murdered Jack’s fiancé.
You might think Jack has the advantage because she has friends, family, and fellow cops to help her, while Alex is strictly a lone wolf. But those associates and loved ones can be targeted by Alex, which means Jack needs to protect them as best she can from someone who's out to destroy anyone and everyone important to Jack. And Alex is very innovative when it comes to devising ways to execute anyone who has the misfortune to cross her path.
Including the clever use of various explosives.
What’s To Like...
Cherry Bomb is book six in the “Jack Daniels” series, and the third part (I think) of a trilogy featuring the ultimate badass, Alexandra Kork. I don’t think it is a spoiler to reveal that the Alex/Jack blood feud will be finally resolved here.
As with any J.A. Konrath book, there’s lots of cussing, lots of violence, lots of sex, and lots violence combined with sex. There are thrills and spills on every page, and plenty of wit and oodles of snarky dialogue. If any of this is not your cup of tea, you really shouldn’t be reading books by Konrath.
The writing is half first-person POV (Jack’s) and half third-person (Alex’s). More on this in a bit. There aren’t a lot of characters to keep track of. Jack has her circle of recurring friends and coworkers; and anyone that Alex meets up with has a very limited life expectancy, whether they know Jack or not. Phineas Troutt gets fleshed out, and there's a noteworthy new character, Slappy, who I hope will show up in again.
I learned a new Police slang term, “pigstick”, which Wikipedia and Google totally fail to cover, although Google Images has lots of pics of it. The lyrics to “Stairway To Heaven” were also explained; I found that to be quite enlightening. And I chuckled at the new interpretation to the corrupted musical phrase “He ain’t heavy, he's your brother”.
Everything leads up to a suitably tense and exciting climactic showdown. It wasn’t particularly twisty, but it was a stutter-step ending, which is always fun. At 60 chapters covering 278 pages, you’re never far from a convenient place to stop reading for the night.
“What did he do?” I finally asked.
“Bank robbery. He tied three road flares together, walked into the drive-through lane, and placed the flares in the vacuum tube container.”
“No. Unlit flares. Along with a note saying it was dynamite, and he would set it off unless they gave him two thousand dollars.”
Coursey handed me a photo taken by the bank surveillance camera. The man stood outside the bank window, holding a small black box with an antenna sticking out of the top. He was smiling and waving.
“That’s a remote control car radio,” I said.
“The tellers didn’t know that.” (loc. 8158. Note: location numbers are relative to the bundled version of this trilogy, which is the format in which I read this book.)
“Why else would I have toilet paper in my purse?”
Phin shrugged. “Emergencies? Afraid of being caught without it? How should I know? I’m not a chick, I don’t own a purse. I don’t know why you women keep half that stuff in there.”
“I only keep essentials in my purse.”
“You’ve got a wind-up plastic nun in there.”
“That’s Nunzilla. She shoots sparks out of her mouth.”
“It was … a gift.” (loc. 10152)
Cherry Bomb presently sells for $4.99 at Amazon. The other eleven e-books in the series vary in price between $3.99 and $4.99. J.A. Konrath offers a number of other novels in the same thriller genre, and they seem to be in a similar price range, with a couple as low as $0.99. I read Cherry Bomb as part of a bundle of Books 4, 5, and 6, and right now it's selling for $9.99. J.A. Konrath generously and frequently discounts his books and bundles, and it is not unusual to see them temporarily offered for free.
Monkey bondage was our cue to leave. (loc. 10253)
As with any other J.A. Konrath book, novel, believability is not a high priority. Alex goes on a killing mega-spree, and the police never seem to connect the dots. Amazon even lists this as a “police procedural”, which is a complete laugh. Action and excitement trump any sense of realistic situations here. If you’re not in the mood for senseless violence, the piling up of the bodies might get a bit tedious.
OTOH, the thought that Alex puts into making each execution unique and innovative would make Tim Dorsey’s Serge Storms smile with envy. And I confess, I’m a big Serge Storms fan.
So throw believability out the window, and settle in to enjoy murder for the sake of murder, and snarkiness for the sake of snarkiness. If you approach Cherry Bomb with that perspective, you’ll find it to be a thoroughly entertaining page-turner.
8 Stars. Book introductions are usually skippable, but I found the author’s comments at the start of this book to be quite interesting. Here's part of it:
“I tried my best to make the Jack Daniels series different. Not only from other mysteries and thrillers, but I also wanted each book to have an individual flavor. In Whiskey Sour, I mixed funny with scary. In Bloody Mary, I had a big twist in the middle. In Rusty Nail, I had multiple bad guys. In Dirty Martini, I didn’t have any blood. In Fuzzy Navel, I wrote in real time.
With Cherry Bomb, I did something no other writer has ever done. The villain gets half the book. (…) Fifty percent of the novel is in the bad guy’s point of view.”
AFAIK, J.A. Konrath is still writing stories in the Jack Daniels series. Here's hoping he never stops