A rapid-fire debut thriller that dares to ask who’ll come out on top: Jack Daniels or the Gingerbread Man?
The stakes aren’t as obvious as they sound. The Gingerbread Man is a psychopathic serial killer who kidnaps, tortures, tortures, tortures, and kills selected young women from the Chicago streets, and Jack (née Jacqueline) Daniels is the Violent Crimes lieutenant who’s caught the case but can’t catch the perp. On the contrary: The killer announces his attachment to the lead officer by going after her, leaving doctored chocolates in her car, breaking into her apartment, and taunting her with the obligatory phone messages. While she’s trying to turn the tables on him, Jack is crossing swords with a pair of FBI clones, cracking jokes with her partner about how she can’t even hang on to her live-in boyfriend, applying to a dating service, and watching as the Gingerbread Man gives the nice accountant she’s been set up with the shock of his life before snatching his next victim and tying her up in his basement. Can Jack shake her bad luck and bring in her quarry before he kills her and blows up half the Windy City?
Plotting, personalities, and gallows humor are all standard-issue. Konrath’s most distinctive contribution to the serial-killer genre, apart from seasoning it with a savvy heroine who just can’t keep a man, is some seriously gruesome sadism that should keep the kiddies away.