Tag Archives: Forensic Investigation

AND THEN SHE WAS GONE: a detective jack stratton novel

and then she was gone cover.jpg


by Christopher Greyson

Greyson Media | 2016blood-splatter4-md
Paperback: 328 pages
ISBN: 9781683990024
Genre: Murder Mystery
Prequel to Jack Stratton Series

#1 Girl Jacked
#2 Jack Knifed
#3 Jacks Are Wild
#4 Jack and The Giant Killer
#5 Data Jack

Review Source: ARC ebook from Netgalley and Greyson Media Associates in exchange for an unbiased review.


Excerpt  From Publisher’s  Blurb….

A hometown hero with a heart of gold, Jack Stratton was raised in a whorehouse by his prostitute mother. Jack seemed destined to become another statistic, but now his life has taken a turn for the better. Determined to escape his past, he’s headed for a career in law enforcement. When his foster mother asks him to look into the girl’s disappearance, Jack quickly gets drawn into a baffling mystery. As Jack digs deeper, everyone becomes a suspect—including himself. Caught between the criminals and the cops, can Jack discover the truth in time to save the girl? Or will he become the next victim?

I am at a disadvantage beginning my exposure to the Jack Stratton mystery series with this prequel. Having said that, I did do a little scouting about the books and learned that Jack, as an adult, obviously achieved his dream of becoming an ace detective.  His path to detective, however, appears strewn with tragedy and emotional baggage that began in childhood and followed him into his future. And Then She Was Gone scours the character list of the other books and gives a back story to those playing integral roles in Jack’s life and career.

We meet Jack Statton shortly before his eighteen birthday. Jack and his best friend, Cameron, have decided to enlist in the military after graduation in order to become eligible for the GI bill. For Jack, the military will be used as a stepping stone toward becoming a police detective. Unfortunately, Jack can’t seem to remember to stay out of trouble. He is fixated on trying to solve the world’s problems and not heeding the advice of the adults in his life.

Like a bloodhound on a scent, Jack plunges recklessly after clues to a recent murder. Tasked by his foster mother in clearing one of her children as a suspect,  Jack gets in over his head and nearly derails the police investigation. He tramples crime scenes. confronts gang members in dark alleys, defies  authorities, ignores his parents advice…in other words…acts like any normal teenager. Immortal and invincible and always right.

My overall feeling started as confusion. Was the series aimed at a young adult audience? There was something in the dialogue that sounded forced. An author trying to make an adult character become a teenager but not quite getting there. The adults, including the police, the murderer and the victim felt like characters in a Charley Brown cartoon going waa waa waa in the background.  Additionally, the author tossed in the kitchen sink covering everything from prostitution to drugs; racial relations to adolescent hormonal overload; homelessness to bullying… a few less hot topics and deeper character and story development would have improved things.

It just seemed to lack that special magic that makes you flip the pages so fast you lose yourself in the story.  Just rated …okay.

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That Darkness

That Darkness cover.jpg

That Darkness

by Lisa Black

Fingerprint Showing Minutiae Ridges Bifurcations And Endings clip art

Kensington | April 2016
Hardback: 336 pages (978-1496701886)
Genre: Fiction
Psychological Suspense
Forensic Investigation
Series: Gardiner and Renner #1


 ARC: NETGALLEY in exchange for an unbiased review.

The room wasn’t much just a steel table and chairs, old paint on the walls with the occasional rust stain, two windows frosted by contact paper and a battered desk in the corner,  well out of splattering range…blood-splatter4-md.png

Jack Renner’s clients would have seen many such rooms in their time..

Brian Johnson, a life-long criminal miscreant, believes he is completing a required pre-release prison interview. Decked out in gangsta garb, stylng a cocky attitude, Brian struts into what appears to be an interview room followed by “Dr.” Renner.  Jack Renner, Cleveland homicide detective by day, dispensor of vigilante justice in his spare time,  has “interviewed” 14 “clients” here.   He has a well-honed method getting the most hardened criminal to spill their story.  Each client has been hand selected after careful consideration,  Jack has retrieved every known fact about each one and is ready to play his role in cleaning up the world.

12930883391149431275blood-scarlet-red-splash-md.pngSo Brian, like the 14 before him, never knew it when the gun pointed at the back of his head was fired.
Bang. Bang. Bang.

Maggie Gardiner works as a civilian criminalist with the Cleveland Police Department primarily collecting fingerprints but has experience in serology and spends time working crime scenes work as well.  Naturally inquisitive, doggedly persistent and keenly observant, Maggie takes on a crime scene challenge like hound dog on a scent.     

Renner has managed to control his shady side to perfection right up until he bumps up against Maggie.   As the morgue fills with unfortunate victims and murdered criminals , Maggie begins to connect the dots and unknowingly closes in on Renner’s secret life.   As Jack unravels trying to control and steer the investigation away from his involvement, Maggie begins to question inconsistencies in his behavior and statements until the day….

Jack straightened and turned to her…She stared at him open-mouthed.  Then she said, “It’s you.” “Yes, Maggie,” he told her. “It’s me.”

The novel’s overarching theme posits the question… when is it moral to take the law into your own hands?  When society fails to protect the weak from predators that game the system should someone step in and stop the madness?  What is the line between justice and vigilantism?

The author, a forensic investigator herself, shares her knowledge of the work in exquisite detail.

The parallel story lines with Jack as part of the investigative team trying to distract Maggie from linking him to her findings and Maggie’s dogged determination to unearth the truth move steadily through the story before reaching an unexpected ending.

Jack’s clients reveal the seedy side of life and focus the reader’s thoughts on topics such as human trafficking and elder abuse and neglect.

Black “tells” us things about Jack, Maggie, the victims and the perpetrators, but we don’t become invested in their lives. We don’t know the backstories. She doesn’t scratch beneath the surface. It would have been better to personalize the main characters in enough detail to excite the reader to follow them in later works.

Overall impression
A worthy read. The hot topics will challenge your thoughts about the justice system and the plight of the innocent. Hoping for more character development in the second issue of the series.

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