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Posted October 30, 2007
I first picked up a Swain novel revolving around his casino sleuth, Tony Valentine, several years ago and have read several since. I find the most interesting aspect of these Valentine novels to be the insights Swain provides into the underbelly of casino life. The rest of his work seems pedestrian and mundane to me and I began to wonder why I continued to read the series. When I read the slash page for ¿Midnight Rambler¿, I was quick to explore this new, ¿grittier¿ character and the promises of a new direction for Swain. Despite what you read in these reviews, Jack Carpenter is little more than recycled Tony Valentine in ¿Midnight Rambler¿. In this first installment of an apparent new series, the promised grittier character that is more prone to violence and more explosive was apparently kept under wraps, or more accurately turned out to be Jack¿s dog, not Jack. The most exciting and interesting new character offered in this book is Jack¿s dog whose appearances I found myself anticipating more than Jack¿s. I did appreciate the insights into the realities of missing persons and lost children 'statistical as well as anecdotal', and the harrowing scene in Disney World was a great case study in itself. But I felt the entire time that Tony Valentine had changed addresses and specialties. There was a ¿softness¿ about the book and its characters in that as the mystery and conspiracy began to come into focus, the conspirators were too quick to ¿roll over¿ and take their medicine. I found a lot of character stereotyping from Jack¿s angry former police colleague, to Skell¿s groupie wife, to the fickle media, and to the child abusers themselves. There is a very readable mystery here, especially determining who the various conspirators are as things begin to unravel. But the various subplots are dealt with summarily and shallowly at times for instance, there is little back story of why these abusers teamed up in the first place, what their interactions are, etc. Warning disclaimer: Plot details follow for prospective readers. Similarly, the whole setup for Skell¿s release from prison and his intended revenge never really reaches the ¿payoff¿ the writer intended and I suspect the reader expected. The sudden demise of Skell¿s wife, his attorney, etc. seemed to be little more than sudden housecleaning by the author. And the author¿s failure to tie up all the loose ends¿portending a follow up book is a device of which I have quickly grown weary. Please write books that stand alone, that have a clear beginning, middle, and ending so that we readers can make our own decisions whether we want to read the next book based on its merits alone and not on whether we must read it to see how things ultimately turn out for the ¿bad guys¿.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.