The novel starts with police cars skidding into the parking lot of a 7-11 store and Konrath telling us: “they weren't there for Slurpees.” No, they were there because a horribly mutilated body had been discovered in the trash. And that's when an attractive, intelligent, and tenacious homicide cop named Jack Daniels starts the hunt for a psycho who calls himself The Gingerbread Man. The Gingerbread Man is such a vicious and evil serial killer, he'd make Hannibal Lecter squirm.
This report prepared by Jan Evan Whitford
Hyperion, June 2004, 21.95, 288 pp.
Forty-six years old Lieutenant Jacqueline (Jack) Daniels of the Chicago police department heads the Violent Crimes Unit. She's dedicated to the job, but that cost her when her husband left her because she paid more attention to work than to him. She has lived with Don for six months but he dumps her for his personal trainer because she doesn't spend enough quality time with him. Jack suffers from a bad case of chronic insomnia but that still doesn't prevent her from putting many hours in on the job.
Jack knows with the discovery of the first victim, strangled to death and tortured post-mortem, that she has a serial killer. He calls himself the Gingerbread Man and wants media attention. His next victim is tortured for hours before he finally kills her and as with the previous fatality leaves the victim in the garbage can with her arse pointing out. Two FBI agents arrive to help then profile the killer but they act more like Abbot and Costello then government investigators. The Gingerbread Man intends to make Jack his final victim in a duet dance to the death.
The protagonist makes this book a cut above the best in the saturated sub-genre. She is mature, with a wry wit and a delightful sense of humor. She knows her life is lacking balance but she doesn't feel sorry for herself. Instead, she takes the advice of her partner and joins a dating service. Her ability to lead her unit and walk the streets with them makes her a popular and respected superior.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner