Fuzzy Navel


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Chicago police woman Jack Daniels is back, and this time she's locked up in her mother's home, along with her fianc, her mom, and one of the scariest psychos ever to escape from prison. Unabridged. 1 MP3 CD.

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Jul 12, 2009

Best of the series (1-5)!

The fifth novel in the Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series was released in hardcover on July 8th, 2008, and it continues author J.A. Konrath's pleasing mix of mayhem and mirth. If you aren't familiar with Jack, she's a forty-something divorced Chicago cop who has been to hell and back both physically and emotionally in the past four books. She's solved some of the most heinous crimes in recent Chicago history, but she, along with her over-eating partner Herb, often pay a high price for their involvement.

At the end of book four, DIRTY MARTINI, we're sure that Jack has seen all the personal retribution any human being could withstand. She proposes to her boyfriend, who had proposed to her earlier, but their lives were interrupted and almost extinguished by our friendly neighborhood madman. As the book closes, we are positive that Jack is finally on her way to a more peaceful period in her life.

Well, that doesn't last for long?

Alex Kork, the sadistic mutilator and murderer from RUSTY NAIL, is dead. Her body was found severely torched in her holding cell at the maximum-security psych facility where she has been staying since the events of the third book. But there's only one problem: it's not really her body. Instead, she has escaped and is out for visceral revenge on Jack and anyone who gets in her way.

Before Jack discovers this truth, she has to deal with a lunatic (or more) on a rampage through her precinct territory who is killing people with incredibly accurate, long-distance firepower. She later discovers this is the supposedly heroic act of a group of vigilantes who call themselves The Urban Hunting Club (TUHC). They claim they just want to take out the trash that the cops haven't been able to handle.

But what started as desire for justice, albeit a twisted one, quickly degenerates into madness as one particularly insane member of TUHC also takes out a large number of cops investigating one of his kills. Among those investigating are Jack and Herb. They survive, partially wounded, and this sets the stage for the remaining events.

I don't want to reveal too much, so I will just say this: Early on, Alex holds the lives of Jack, her mother, and Jack's fiancé, Latham, in her hands. Throughout the novel, this situation intertwines with Harry McGlade (about whom a startling secret is revealed), Herb, Phin Trout ? and the three members of TUHC.

I found FUZZY NAVEL to be the best Jack Daniels novel to date. It has a tight time focus ? 4:38 PM to 12:23 AM ? for the main events. It has a large amount of action, almost non-stop for long periods. It also has the trademark sense of humor right alongside the pain and the terror. It's less in the forefront this time around, making it even better. For me, the groan-worthy puns in some of the previous books are actually a delight. That's my kind of humor, too, but I can see where the lighter touch, the more direct mix with the action, will appeal to a wider audience.

I also enjoyed the challenge of several style choices Konrath made in the writing process. There are two characters that speak in the first person ? both Alex and Jack. All chapters are labeled with a name and a time instead of chapter numbers, and paying attention to these is important. The signpost is there. Follow it, and you will have no confusion. Also, the book is written entirely in present tense, which adds to the sense of urgency and provides a deeper feeling of immersion into the action. It's not a verb tense I usually prefer, but Konrath employs it so deftly that I didn't even notice it until I was halfway through the book.

FUZZY NAVEL has it all. Konrath's series just keeps getting better. I often found myself unable to move away from the book, having to know what was going to happen next. CHERRY BOMB, the sixth volume in the series, was just released a few days ago (July 2009), and I can't wait to read it.

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