Barely a year has passed since Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels fought off the blood-thirsty intentions of the “Gingerbread Man,” a sociopath hell-bent on making Jack a key ingredient in his death du jour. Not too much has changed for her. She’s still working hard, still quibbling with her overweight partner, Herb Benedict, still suffering from insomnia, and still hitting the bottle. But as she grapples with her love life and her mother’s failing health, a new string of bizarre murders quickly becomes personal as her possessions are showing up with dead body parts at the morgue.
Though no serial killer can ever be considered average or harmless, this murderer poses an exponential risk for Jack. A co-worker has taken to a love-hate relationship towards her; that is, he loves to hate her and plots her death with the delight often associated with winning the lottery. But catching this villain becomes only half the problem. When complications arise and his release actually happens, he promises Jack that he will hunt her down and kill everyone she loves. With the clock ticking, Jack must seek additional evidence to make sure this killer doesn’t escape his due punishment.
This sophomore novel surpasses Konrath’s debut novel in terms of quality, appeal, and research. Jack feels much more real in this novel as listeners hear how all the interconnected threads of her life pull on her to no end. Konrath gives his audience more genuine reasons for Jack’s insomnia and general disposition. What’s more, we see much more depth regarding life as a forty-six-year-old female detective and where she fits into the overall schema of a police station. More than anything else, Konrath provides a glimpse into the extreme stress and tension that police must deal with every day.
Dynamic duo Dick Hill and Susie Breck narrate this rollercoaster ride, with Breck performing the lion’s share of narration. Breck plays the part of Jack fantastically. She portrays emotion and depth on behalf of Jack that does the character justice. Breck manages to breathe emotion into the voice even before the character openly states an emotion such as “I’m tired” or “I’m angry.” Hill, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be at the top of his game. Though the chapters where he is the sole narrator are well executed, Hill seems to falter with providing a range of voices when it comes to male characters, particularly when his pieces are dispersed throughout a Breck-dominated chapter. The speaking parts for most of his male characters can often take a while to discern from one another.
Konrath himself reads the afterword, thanking many people who helped him complete this novel. He follows this with a short story, “Whelp Wanted” starring Harry McGlade, a character from his Jack Daniels series. This humorous story follows the obnoxious and bumbling detective as he tries to solve the case of the stolen Shar-pei. Konrath reads the story well enough, but after listening for over seven hours to two professional narrators, he only reminds listeners why they have been the saving grace of the audiobook industry.
Blood Mary reminds us that it’s not over until the psychopath is strapped to the electric chair. Konrath blends suspense and humor in this second novel with a growing skill that will keep people hooked and interested in the series, hopefully, for years to come.