Wednesday, May 27, 2020


FAIR WARNING by Michael Connelly (Orion, 2020)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Veteran reporter Jack McEvoy has taken down killers before, but when a woman he had a one-night stand with is murdered in a particularly brutal way, McEvoy realizes he might be facing a criminal mind unlike any he's ever encountered.

McEvoy investigates---against the warnings of the police and his own editor---and makes a shocking discovery that connects the crime to other mysterious deaths across the country. But his inquiry hits a snag when he himself becomes a suspect.

As he races to clear his name, McEvoy's findings point to a serial killer working under the radar of law enforcement for years, and using personal data shared by the victims themselves to select and hunt his targets.

The latest crime novel from Michael Connelly, who has been entertaining readers for almost thirty years in a glittering career that's seen him take the baton from Raymond Chandler as the preeminent chronicler of Los Angeles in all its glitz and grime, is a real humdinger.

After a number of excellent instalments in his overlapping series starring investigator Harry Bosch and defense lawyer Mickey Haller, as well as the launch of the terrific Renee Ballard books, Connelly has now returned to an old character, reporter Jack McEvoy (THE POET, THE SCARECROW).

The middle-aged McEvoy is dealing with the disappearance of his glory days. He's no longer on the crime beat for the LA Times and his royalties from past blockbuster true crime books have withered, causing him to downsize his lifestyle. Writing for a consumer watchdog website, he's paired with keen young journo Emily Atwater after he sniffs out a story when he's questioned by the cops. Can he parlay his new role and personal connection to the case to foil a killer and crack another big story?

FAIR WARNING is a terrific page-turner with real pace that also allows Connelly to reflect on the changing face of his former profession. And the challenges it faces. Connelly's high regard for a vital industry and profession that's facing a variety of threats is clear, but never overwhelms the forward momentum of a cracking good crime thriller. He also weaves in some interesting (and disturbing) threads about the interface between technology, privacy, and our medical and genetic data.

Another superb read from a master storyteller.

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer from New Zealand, now living in London. In recent years he’s interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at books festivals on three continents. He has been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards and the McIlvanney Prize, and is founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards and co-founder of Rotorua Noir. You can heckle him on Twitter. 

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