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The Devil's Right Hand (Jack Keller) (2005)

by J. D. Rhoades

Series: Jack Keller (1)

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821249,389 (3.77)None
"The Devil's Right Hand "is the story of Jack Keller, a man tormented by the nightmares he's had ever since a disastrous tour in Desert Storm. Destroyed by his experience, Keller now makes his living tracking bailjumpers for H&H, a North Carolina bail bonds company run by a reclusive, beautiful, and horribly scarred woman named Angela. In truth, Keller doesn't work bail enforcement to live, he lives to work: the only thing that breaks through the numbness is the thrill of the hunt, the sound of gunfire, the high that comes with each successful takedown.When H&H is required to track down a lifelong loser for jumping bail on a routine burglary collar, Keller has no idea how gravely events are about to spiral out of his control. He chases his quarry straight into the center of a firestorm involving a pair of local Indians blinded by rage and hell-bent to avenge their father's murder. Along the way they encounter a vicious North Carolina cop with a mean streak and very few moral boundaries. Not to mention the cop's beautiful partner Marie, caught between a newfound desire for the just-on-the-edge-of-the-law Jack Keller and her loyalty to a police department with a serious ethics problem.These people, each hurtling forward on their own individual trajectories of self-destruction, begin to intersect each other's lives in a series of volatile, escalating, and deadly events. Furiously paced and filled with unforgettable, masterfully drawn characters destined to meet in a bloody showdown which most of them will not survive, "The Devil's Right Hand" is a stylish, razor-edged debut novel that redefines the rules of the Southern thriller.… (more)

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A nice introduction to a new author's first book, and the first in a series. The prose is well written, and the dialogue flows nicely and naturally. Action is easy to follow, and descriptions are clear. The problems are the characters and the pacing.

The main characters are well realized and actually interesting, if familiar to mystery readers. The supporting cast, however, are uninteresting and cliched. Psycho cop? Check. Hot tempered detective with a chip on his shoulder out to get the main character? Check. Crazy bad guy? Check. White trash bad guy? Check. South American Cartel member bad guys? Yep, there too. It's a tough ride, making bad guys interesting and not outlandish. Outlandish villains would be bad fit for Rhoades' style, but the bad guys need to be interesting. I think maybe Rhoades sacrificed the bad guys to emphasize the main characters, which may have been a wise move. It was the main characters that carried the interest of the reader, not their adversaries.

Most of the pacing was fast and engaging, except when we had to spend too much time with the bad guys, then it slowed way down, and wasn't always that interesting. It worked best when the sections with the bad guys were kept short. The ending was nicely executed, and left me interested enough to read the next book in the series.

All in all a solid debut. The parts of the book that worked worked well, as Rhoades has created an interesting hero and supporting cast. The plot is engaging and well executed outside of the pacing issues. I hope to see more of Keller in his role as a bond recovery agent. ( )
  cdhtenn2k10 | Jul 5, 2011 |
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"The Devil's Right Hand "is the story of Jack Keller, a man tormented by the nightmares he's had ever since a disastrous tour in Desert Storm. Destroyed by his experience, Keller now makes his living tracking bailjumpers for H&H, a North Carolina bail bonds company run by a reclusive, beautiful, and horribly scarred woman named Angela. In truth, Keller doesn't work bail enforcement to live, he lives to work: the only thing that breaks through the numbness is the thrill of the hunt, the sound of gunfire, the high that comes with each successful takedown.When H&H is required to track down a lifelong loser for jumping bail on a routine burglary collar, Keller has no idea how gravely events are about to spiral out of his control. He chases his quarry straight into the center of a firestorm involving a pair of local Indians blinded by rage and hell-bent to avenge their father's murder. Along the way they encounter a vicious North Carolina cop with a mean streak and very few moral boundaries. Not to mention the cop's beautiful partner Marie, caught between a newfound desire for the just-on-the-edge-of-the-law Jack Keller and her loyalty to a police department with a serious ethics problem.These people, each hurtling forward on their own individual trajectories of self-destruction, begin to intersect each other's lives in a series of volatile, escalating, and deadly events. Furiously paced and filled with unforgettable, masterfully drawn characters destined to meet in a bloody showdown which most of them will not survive, "The Devil's Right Hand" is a stylish, razor-edged debut novel that redefines the rules of the Southern thriller.

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