A killer stalks the streets of lower Manhattan just in time for the holidays, randomly shooting his unfortunate victims, from individuals to whole families. As the public panic increases with the body count, Detective Deke Durgess leads on a case with literally no clues and no witnesses: “Someone out there right now is about to have a last Christmas.”
The thriller starts out boldly, a family of four preparing to escape to Florida for the holidays, giving the reader a taste of the absolute unpredictability of the crimes and how the victims are regular folks who just might be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Separated from his wife, Deke is all about the job, apparently unable to leave his work at the precinct, one of those driven detectives who are so good at their jobs and failures in their personal lives.
Given the enormity of the case - and the screaming headlines - the FBI has gotten involved, young agent Kurt Joseph (“Ku-Jo”) synchronizing his agency with the NYPD. As Durgess and Joseph bond over the bizarre case and become friends, both are invested in stopping this maniac killer, Joseph yearning to return to his family.
With the addition of the FBI agent, Luck of the Draw becomes a nuts-and-bolts police procedural, the two men racing from one outrageous murder scene to the next. The strong beginning loses its focus as suspects are considered, murders accumulate, and the holiday draws nearer. By the time the plot tightens up, the novel is back on track, the action accelerating to a shocking ending.
It feels like Cardieri is lacking in discipline, unable to resist exploring every available emotional trauma, the murderer an enigma until the end. The thriller isn’t short on drama but maybe too filled with situations that need to be resolved. Even though I get the ending, I don’t really understand the motivation for the crime - or the resolution. Often uneven, this is no bedtime story for Christmas Eve.