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Kill the Messenger


Kill the Messenger

One cannot read the first few pages of KILL THE MESSENGER without
feeling sorry for bicycle messengers. I know, I know; I myself, a
gentle soul with no hatred in his heart for anyone, have had to, on
more than one occasion, restrain myself from clotheslining one of
these fellows when I see them barreling down a sidewalk at a speed
of warp Factor 6, playing a two-wheeled variation of the old "We
Don't Stop For Nobody" game popular on grade school playgrounds or
union picket lines. But just read the first few paragraphs
concerning a late afternoon in the life of Jace Damon, bike
messenger for a courier service on the wrong end of the feeding
chain, and I promise you that the next time one of those guys comes
flying past you, it will be hard to resist the urge to buy him

Keep reading KILL THE MESSENGER, though, because his life just gets
worse and worse as this new novel by Tami Hoag progresses. Damon is
not only given a lousy after-hours assignment --- picking up a
package from Lenny Lowell, a bottom-feeding defense lawyer --- but
soon finds himself being attacked and blamed for the brutal murder
of the selfsame lawyer. So far as the Los Angeles gendarme can
tell, Damon was the last one to see the counselor alive. Damon's
fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, the lawyer's safe is
open...things don't look good for our impoverished bike

Add the fact that Damon is the sole support of his little brother
and that a middle-aged Japanese couple are the only people standing
between the Damons and a Dickensonian existence, and you get the
sense that Damon is in desperate straits indeed --- especially when
it seems that half of the L.A. Police department is looking for
him, along with a killer, the guy who really offed Lowell and who
is trying to get that package to which Damon is clinging so

The only authority figure who feels as if something is wrong with
the whole bike-messenger-as-murderer scenario is Kev Parker, an
unorthodox LAPD detective who is clinging to his job by his
hangnails. Parker thinks that the scenario of Damon --- who, by the
luck of the draw, was sent to Lowell's office --- as murderer and
robber makes no sense. Parker soon comes to believe that the murder
of Lowell, and the package that is causing Damon so much trouble,
is tied into a high-profile murder trial that is taking up most of
the daily newspaper headline space. What Parker knows, however, is
more than he is able to prove. Unable to trust anyone in his own
police department, Parker goes it alone in an effort to get to the
bottom of two murders and save Damon's life.

Hoag almost succeeds too well in KILL THE MESSENGER. The opening of
this book is literally breathtaking --- and this before any crime
is committed! --- and while it remains high on drama throughout, it
saves the resolution of far too much for the last few pages. This
is not to say that there aren't huge surprises in KILL THE
MESSENGER, including a huge one that caught me napping. It's just
that there seemed to be too many of them crammed into too few
pages. KILL THE MESSENGER is certainly worth the ride, however, and
Hoag's legion of long-time fans, as well as anyone reading her work
for the first time, will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Kill the Messenger
by Tami Hoag

  • Publication Date: July 6, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553801953
  • ISBN-13: 9780553801958