Chicago police Lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels is having her
toughest week ever. Her insomnia is kicking in, her boyfriend Don
left her a "Dear John" letter, her aging mother has suffered a
fall, her partner Herb Benedict sliced his tongue on a tampered
candy bar, and bodies of murdered young women are being found in
garbage cans outside area 7-Elevens. Kind enough to staple notes to
the victims, the murderer has identified himself as The Gingerbread
Man, leaving a lacquered brown cookie with each corpse.
Comforted only by her loneliness, Ed McBain novels, an occasional
shot of whiskey and a game at Joe's Pool Hall, the pretty yet
mature Jack Daniels takes the lead on the Gingerbread Man case only
to discover that the killer wishes to get a little closer to her as
well. First time novelist J.A. Konrath makes readers want to
triple-bolt their doors and windows by exploring the mindset of the
Gingerbread Man in alternating chapters that follow the Chicago
police investigation and the killer's personal justification for
his vicious crime spree --- lamenting his father's abuse, his
termination from a job, the embarrassing breakup from his wife on a
nationally televised tabloid TV show, and his discovery that
murder, "like any drug, the more you get, the more you need later
to feel the same high."
Daniels finds that, in addition to the psychopath, the FBI, a man
she arrested years ago named Phin Troutt, and Harry McGlade, a
former member of the force, are also following her around.
As he breaks into Daniels's car and apartment, and even gets close
enough to shoot her in the leg, the Gingerbread Man shows the cops
that he is an experienced killer, a former convict who covers the
evidence and his trail as if he never existed --- except for the
videotapes he makes of the torture he inflicts on each
With lightening fast action, chilling suspense and biting humor,
Konrath shows that the mean streets of Chicago are a lot meaner
than even the most experienced detective novel fan could imagine,
as his Gingerbread Man leaves a legacy of terror and blood on the
city few could forget, explaining in horrifying detail how "easy"
it is to stalk, kidnap, torture, kill and repeat, without so much
as raising an eyebrow of potential witnesses.
Comic relief is provided by Daniels's decision to contact a dating
service to find the man of her dreams, as well as by the two FBI
profilers who suggest that Daniels and her investigators follow the
trail of a mother-obsessed, cross-dressing French Canadian man who
may own a horse. WHISKEY SOUR is upsetting, powerful and quite
sinfully impossible to put down until that last deadly drop.
Konrath has begun an exciting mystery series with Jack Daniels.
Bartender? Another round for the house!
Reviewed by Brandon M. Stickney on January 24, 2011