JITTER JOINT by Howard Swindle


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Jeb Quinlin is a homicide detective, maybe the best one in the Dallas PD. He’s also a drunk with memories of a boozy father that make him feel like he’s looking in the mirror. Still, these quandaries alone would never have thrust him into the Cedar Ridge rehab clinic without two other heavy-hitting ultimatums as his primary goads: Quit drinking, his boss says, or lose your job. Get off the bottle, his wife tells him, or the marriage is over. So there he is, a shaky, achy inmate just days past detox when the murders start piling up. One, two, three—and each of the bodies is bearing a lipsticked message with particular resonance for the Cedar Ridge population: the words of an AA Twelve Step program are scrawled on all. Soon it becomes all too obvious—the killer is or was, until recently, doing the course at Cedar Ridge—and what’s equally obvious is that Quinlin has no choice but to revert from patient to cop. The killer has to be stopped. For one thing, his politically sensitive boss has suddenly changed the rules, and Quinlin’s job now depends on his solving the case. But, much more important, Quinlin has also fallen in love. He didn’t want to, but he has, and the fact that he loves her places a beautiful woman in deadly peril. Because the killer has made it personal. Swindle, a Pulitzer Prize—winning crime writer (Trespasses, 1996, etc.), turns his hand to fiction for the first time, and does okay. While there’s not much here to quicken a pulse, there’s certainly nothing to heighten a blush.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-20066-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999


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