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Midnight Rambler by James Swain

Midnight Rambler

by James Swain

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I have read most of Swain's Tony Valentine series and enjoy them a lot. Swain apparently knows the gambling and grifting business cold and it shows in the stories. Midnight Rambler is a departure from that knowledge set, I think. His protagonist is an ex-cop who got thrown off the force for beating up a suspect. He specializes in finding missing persons, especially children. He has Bruno, a dog to provide some comic relief. It's a good story but the detail doesn't ring as authentic as his grifter series. I was listening to this book while driving and every now and again would mutter, "you stupid son-of-a-bitch."

I have this thing about self-righteous vigilantes, for that's what our "hero" is. He has this obsession with finding lost children and he's good at it, but there are a couple of scenes where, rather than call the authorities, who have the manpower and resources to fix things right, he insists on taking the law into his own hands, all the while treating us to a discourse on why he can do things better, yada yada yada. The end result is that he is forced to kill one of the chief bad guys before getting information they desperately need to save a girl who has been kidnapped and is being tortured. They can see it happening on the screen, and they learn the location, but do they call in the cavalry? Nope, gotta do it themselves. Foolish, stupid and self-righteous.

Nevertheless, I'll give it a couple of stars for an intriguing and unusual plot in which the bad guys employ centralized order taking at a McDonald's to target their victims.
( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
An Intelligent Mystery and Heart-Pounding Thriller!

In Midnight Rambler, James Swain unleashes Jack Carpenter into the world of hard-boiled detective fiction. Carpenter, a cop-turned-private eye, specializes in the recovery of abducted children. He races the clock to stop Simon Skell, a notorious serial killer, to keep Skell from continuing his vicious killing spree. Though Carpenter had convicted Skell -- and eventually lost his shield -- new evidence suggests that Skell was wrongly convicted. Carpenter, who battles demons of his own, desperately struggles to keep Skell from striking again.

I hesitate to provide any further details, lest I spoil any of the twists and turns in this well-crafted plot. Midnight Rambler reads as quickly as any of Dan Brown's books and has qualities reminiscent of the best works by John Grisham and Jeffrey Deaver. At the same time, though, Swain's work is unique. Midnight Rambler is gritty and compelling. His knowledge of law enforcement techniques and dynamics adds authenticity and depth to this fine novel.

Like some of the other reviewers, I am a huge fan of Swain's other works: the Tony Valentine series including Grift Sense, Funny Money, Mr. Lucky, Loaded Dice and Sucker Bet. Valentine is a former Atlantic City detective who exposes gambling cheats. The books are great fun and very interesting -- Swain, a well-known magician and card handler, draws on his deep knowledge of cheating techniques to fuel the Valentine stories.

When I first learned that Swain would explore the much more disturbing world of child abduction, I was hesitant. However, he expertly navigates these dark and troubled waters. And Carpenter, a much more down-and-out character than Valentine, adds a quality of desperation appropriate to this story.

Midnight Rambler often left me breathless. At one point in the story -- set in Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom of all place -- I actually welled up with tears. Yet, I couldn't stop reading it.

Pick up a copy of Midnight Rambler. You won't want to put it down. ( )
1 vote trickbooks | Dec 20, 2007 |
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Do justly...love mercy, and...
walk humbly with thy god.
—Micah 6:8
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My cell phone awoke me from a deep sleep.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 034547547X, Mass Market Paperback)

Explosive. Pulse-pounding. Heart-racing. From the bestselling author The Wall Street Journal hails as “one terrific writer,” Midnight Rambler is the breakout thriller of the year–a brawny, brainy novel of suspense that pairs James Swain’s trademark smooth-as-silk prose with a plot bigger and bolder than anything he’s done before.

In South Florida, Jack Carpenter is infamous. He’s the cop who busted the notorious serial killer Simon Skell–aka the Midnight Rambler–and sacrificed his badge and marriage in the process. Haunted by the Skell case, Carpenter now works as an abduction specialist in Fort Lauderdale, reuniting families with their missing children.

But the body of one of the Midnight Rambler’s victims has just been uncovered–and forensic evidence suggests Carpenter jailed the wrong man. With Skell just days away from release, the tarnished hero must reopen the case that shattered his life and the lives of eight murdered women.

As waves of heat and rain wash over the steamy streets, Carpenter races against the clock to reaffirm the case against Skell. Yet the deeper he digs, the more he starts to realize that Skell is just one piece in a terrifying puzzle of predation and murder, just one player in a shocking conspiracy that ranges across the state of Florida. And as the relentless Carpenter draws the net tighter, his enemies prepare to spring a devastating final surprise.

From the seaside bar that Jack Carpenter calls home to the glittering tourist kingdom in Orlando to the funky jungle of Coconut Grove, James Swain unleashes a wild ride into the heart of evil–with the Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler” as the throbbing, terrifying soundtrack.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:53 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Years ago, South Florida cop Jack Carpenter beat up a murder suspect named Simon Skell, a dangerous predator with a penchant for playing the Rolling Stones' "Midnight Rambler" as he tortured young women. When Jack lost his temper, he lost his job and marriage, too; so as Skell's early release from prison draws near, the tarnished hero--now a specialist in missing-child cases--sees an opportunity to make things right. But his mission uncovers a shocking criminal conspiracy and soon Jack is trying to outwit, outrun, and outmaneuver his enemies.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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