AND SOUND, J.D. Rhoades’s third Jack Keller novel, begins
with a nightmare scenario. Remember that beginning. It’s but
a premonition of what is to come in one of the darkest --- and best
--- novels of 2007.
Keller’s emotions have always trolled out where the buses
don’t run, and he finds himself slipping deeper and deeper
into dark territory in SAFE AND SOUND. He is in the process of
attempting to put a relationship together with ex-policewoman Marie
Jones. Running a private investigation agency, Jones accepts a case
that will have implications reaching far beyond its expected
boundaries. She agrees to trace the whereabouts of David Lundgren,
an Army sergeant who has absconded with his young daughter.
Keller becomes involved in the search, quickly surmising that
Lundgren has ties to the special ops community. Not even the Army,
however, knows where Lundgren is; he has, in fact, fallen afoul of
DeGroot, a dark force of nature skilled in the ways of the arts of
interrogation and murder. DeGroot is on a trail that began in the
mountains of Afghanistan and will end in the mountains of North
Carolina. His trail will intersect with Keller’s, with both
men leaving --- and bringing --- death and destruction upon friend
and foe alike with steel-edged certainty.
More than Keller’s happiness hangs in the balance; his
sanity, already teetering on a fine edge, may well be lost to the
abyss. And Jones, heretofore the shelter in the storm of
Keller’s emotions, is in the path of both men.
Rhoades has a fine sense of irony that runs deep and true through
SAFE AND SOUND, beginning with the title and continuing all the way
to the very last page. The author's narrative, which reads much
like that of Dashiell Hammett, is strong, stark and sure, just like
his plot. One never gets lost, but one is never safe, either. This
is a work of quality that hints of even greater things to
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011