Don't Speak by J. L. Brown

Don't Speak

A Jade Harrington novel
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During the height of a presidential election, FBI agent Jade Harrington searches for a serial killer of right-wing radio hosts in this debut thriller.

In a 10-years-earlier prologue, a mysterious “I” describes whacking a classmate to death with a baseball bat as the victim wraps up a college radio broadcast. The novel then jumps to present-day Arlington, Virginia. Jade is a beautiful half-Japanese, half-black FBI agent trained in martial arts and largely a loner save for hanging out with her cat and lesbian best friend, Zoe. The rising young agent is tapped to lead a team to investigate the recent murder of conservative radio commentator Randy Sells. She soon pieces together that there’s been a history of such killings. Meanwhile, liberal Sen. Whitney Fairchild is running for president with the help of younger, handsome legislative director Landon Phillips. Jade and Whitney meet as the killer, dubbing himself TSK (Talk Show Killer), sends missives threatening that the murders will continue “until the Federal Communications Commission brings back the Fairness Doctrine or news networks take it upon themselves to present both sides of significant issues.” Whitney goes on Cole Brennan’s show on the Patriot News Network, supporting the right to free speech for all. Jade and Landon, introduced by Whitney, begin a flirtation that’s interrupted as TSK takes out one of Jade’s teammates, then kills an Ann Coulter type and holds Brennan and his family hostage. By novel’s end, Jade faces hand-to-hand combat with the killer and Whitney receives a surprising message from someone in her past. Brown has created strong, intriguing leads in Jade and Whitney, both seemingly poised to continue in future adventures. Digressions into political details, such as Whitney’s campaigning, occasionally disrupt the main plot, with such byroads also coming at the expense of more revelations about Jade, presumably this intended series’ main character. Still, Brown lays enough groundwork regarding this mysterious investigator, including placing an antagonist/possible love interest among her team, to whet interest for a next installment. Overall, a promising debut.

An engaging novel that focuses on an enigmatic female agent pursuing a murderer.

ISBN: 978-0-9969772-1-0
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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