Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: January 31st, 2017
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Blurb from goodreads:
Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living, form an uneasy partnership to solve a series of murders in this powerful new thriller by the bestselling author of That Darkness. It begins with the kind of bizarre death that makes headlines--literally. A copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the grinding wheels of the newspaper assembly line, a wide strap wrapped around his throat. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner has her suspicions about this apparent suicide inside the tsunami of tensions that is the news industry today--and when the evidence suggests murder, Maggie has no choice but to place her trust in the one person she doesn't trust at all . . .
Jack Renner is a killer with a conscience, a vigilante with his own code of honor. In the past, Jack has used his skills and connections as a homicide detective to take the law into his own hands, all in the name of justice. He has only one problem: Maggie knows his secret. She insists he enforce the law, not subvert it. But when more newspaper employees are slain, Jack may be the only person who can help Maggie unmask the killer-- even if Jack is still checking names off his own private murder list.
"Unpunished" is a story full of grays, with no hard black and white lines. The story and the series have an intriguing premise with a cop who is also a vigilante killer and a forensic scientist who knows about him but is keeping secret for reasons of her own. That aspect interested and I'd like to see that explored more. We have a detective who is morally questionable, a CSI tech who tries to do right but is only human, and a killer who seems to have no remorse or shame yet is passionate about his day job. All of them are flawed, all of them have redeeming qualities, and all of them are or have done things that are legally, morally, and ethically questionable or flat-out wrong.
"Unpunished" is the second book in the series but worked well as a stand-alone. I would have liked to have read the first to better appreciate events but it wasn't necessary in order to understand. Maggie and Jack have a fragile relationship; she uncovered, in the previous book, that he was responsible for a string of deaths. She gave him an ultimatum and he agreed to abide by it, but will he? Or will he continue his murderous streak? And what will she do? Given their circumstances and what apparently happened in the first book, I would have expected more tension between Jack and Maggie. There was some, but it wasn't strong.
While dealing with all this, they are thrown together on a murder case at the local newspaper. The actual mystery was meh. That part of the story bogged down with way too much detail, and preachiness, on the aspects of running and printing a newspaper, and a killer whose behavior just didn't make sense to me. I had a hard time believing the reason why the killer did what they did and the means used to kill the victims. It seemed both over the top and absurd, but points for creativity.
There's a lot of potential which the story doesn't live up to but it's a decent story. I may read more in the series.