Dirty Martini by J.A. Konrath

15 04 2009
Another reason these books rock my socks?  Each one opens with a drink recipe for the titular cocktail.

Another reason these books rock my socks? Each one opens with a drink recipe for the titular cocktail.

OMG y’all – sorry for the crazy long hiatus.  I’ve been reading several books at once which really hinders the whole completing a book process.  But the first one I finished is THE MOST TERRIFYING BOOK I HAVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE.  Luckily, it was also really good…so I’m going to recommend it – although if you naturally run a bit paranoid, you may want to take some Xanax while reading. (You may want to take some even if you don’t run paranoid; Xanax puts life in perspective.)

Dirty Martini is the fourth book in J.A. Konrath’s super awesome Jack Daniels series.  Lt. Jacqueline Daniels is a Homicide detective in Chicago and tough as hay-ell.  When I picked up the first book (Whiskey Sour), I was expecting a cute little mystery series…something along the lines of Sue Grafton or Janet Evanovich.  Yeah, no.  I don’t really have any fear of crime – I don’t pay attention to locking doors, I’ll wander around bad neighborhoods at 3 am while intoxicated, I never zip my purse – basically I have a sign on my forehead that says “Please steal all of my stuff and then maim me.”  And all of the cop procedurals in the world won’t cure me of my terminal carelessness.  But every time I read a new Konrath book, I spend half of my time checking my locks and jumping at every noise and staring suspiciously at every one I see, positive they’re plotting my gruesome death.  It’s kinda rad.

There’s still a lot of humor, though most of it is of the gallows variety.  Jack and her associates basically have horrible pun-offs at all of the crime scenes (Oh, Lenny Briscoe, you are missed), which delights me to no end.  The supporting characters relieve a lot of the tension – her mother is kinda promiscuous and her cat is quite possibly a minion of Satan, the FBI profilers that are brought on to the cases are always the butt of some good natured exasperation with government bureaucrat jokes, her partner, Herb, is fantastically overweight and spends most of his time thinking about food and her ex-partner Harry is a self-centered womanizer.  What’s nice about these books is that all of the characters and their various quirks could end up two dimensional, but Konrath does a great job of elevating them past their eccentricities and gives them great depth and development and also isn’t afraid to place them in actual danger where they are actually effed up.

All of the books have pretty great plots.  The crimes are interesting and a good balance is struck between showing the banality that constitutes most police work (I’m assuming) and the flashy action that is necessary for a novel.   The action is well written, the villains are appropriately villain-y, the conclusions dazzling and satisfying.  All of which brings me to the ABSOLUTE TERROR of Dirty Martini.  Someone in Chicago is poisoning food – like walking into a supermarket and randomly injecting Botulism into apples and canned peas and sausage and whatnot.  And then moves on from Botulism to a whole host of awful poisons – complete with super-detailed descriptions of the agony they cause.  Trust me, after the first 20 pages I decided I was never going to eat again.   And, when I did eat, I definitely sniffed all of my food before putting it in my mouth. (I have a ridiculous amount of unjustified confidence in my sense of smell like I’m a freaking bloodhound and know what I’m doing.  I am an ass.  I don’t know how I’m still alive sometimes.)  After all of the E. Coli and salmonella scares of the past couple of years, our sense of food security has already been shaken – the idea of someone easily killing hundreds or thousand of people using basic biology and a bit of ingenuity?  Well, it makes living in a walled compound eating only what I can raise or grow A LOT more attractive.

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