DON'T LOSE HER by Jonathon King (Open Road Media, 2015)
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
When a pregnant federal judge is abducted, former Philly cop turned South Florida recluse Max Freeman pursues an eccentric gang deep into a hidden world he knows better than most: the shadowy waterways of the Everglades.
Jonathon King burst onto the crime writing scene in 2002, drawing widespread critical acclaim from the biggest names in the business for his tale of ex-Philadelphia cop Max Freeman, who had put himself into solitary confinement as a recluse in the Florida Everglades after killing a kid in a shootout gone bad. THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT went on to scoop the prestigious Edgar Award for Best Novel, along with being shortlisted for the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards.
After a five year absence, King makes a welcome return to the page with his seventh Max Freeman tale. And the stakes couldn't be higher for the Philly cop turned Florida fix-it man. His best friend and long-time employer, lawyer and dealmaker Billy Manchester, is looking forward to the arrival of his first child. Billy's heavily pregnant wife Diane is finishing up her caseload with a trial involving a South American drug kingpin, who seems to threaten her before she takes a lunch break, and is then promptly snatched off the street.
While the FBI swirls into action Billy, a man who seems to have all the connections, calls the only man he can trust to find the most important thing in his life: Max Freeman. While Diane is threatened and kept in the dark by the kidnappers, and the Feds wait on a break in the case or a ransom demand that never comes, Max uses alternative means to scour the streets for any whisper of information. Who has taken her, and why? The Feds zero in on the drug cartel, but can't make any headway - but is it that obvious? And if so, does that mean there is no hope of recovering Diane alive? Knowing anything other than rescue would break Billy, Max hunts for an unknown enemy, eventually picking up the trail to a place he knows best: the Everglades.
DON'T LOSE HER is an enthralling story, kicking into gear from the opening pages. King crafts a great sense of tension and intrigue, as the reader rides along with Max as he tries to work out what the heck is going on, while knowing there is an unknown ticking clock. While the kidnappers have given no deadline, and in fact no ransom demand or any contact whatsoever, it's clear that the longer things drag out the more danger Diane is in. DON'T LOSE HER is a great blend of thrills and mystery, as Max takes matters into his own hands in his adopted home of the Everglades. Max Freeman is an intriguing character, dealing with the consequences of his own past missteps along with his personal relationships with those he cares about.
Overall, DON'T LOSE HER is a very good instalment in a great series, an enjoyable and excellent read where the pages turn quickly and King makes us care about those involved, with a few twists along the way.