Midnight Rambler (Jack Carpenter Series #1)

Midnight Rambler (Jack Carpenter Series #1)

4.4 26
by James Swain, Peter Jay Fernandez
     
 

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Explosive. Pulse-pounding. Heart-racing. From the bestselling author The Wall Street Journal hails as "one terrific writer," Midnight Rambler is the breakout thriller of the year -- a brawny, brainy novel of suspense that pairs James Swain's trademark smooth-as-silk prose with a plot bigger and bolder than anything he's done before.

In South Florida, Jack

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Overview

Explosive. Pulse-pounding. Heart-racing. From the bestselling author The Wall Street Journal hails as "one terrific writer," Midnight Rambler is the breakout thriller of the year -- a brawny, brainy novel of suspense that pairs James Swain's trademark smooth-as-silk prose with a plot bigger and bolder than anything he's done before.

In South Florida, Jack Carpenter is infamous. He's the cop who busted the notorious serial killer Simon Skell -- aka the Midnight Rambler -- and sacrificed his badge and marriage in the process. Haunted by the Skell case, Carpenter now works as an abduction specialist in Fort Lauderdale, reuniting families with their missing children.

But the body of one of the Midnight Rambler's victims has just been uncovered -- and forensic evidence suggests Carpenter jailed the wrong man. With Skell just days away from release, the tarnished hero must reopen the case that shattered his life and the lives of eight murdered women.

As waves of heat and rain wash over the steamy streets, Carpenter races against the clock to reaffirm the case against Skell. Yet the deeper he digs, the more he starts to realize that Skell is just one piece in a terrifying puzzle of predation and murder, just one player in a shocking conspiracy that ranges across the state of Florida. And as the relentless Carpenter draws the net tighter, his enemies prepare to spring a devastating final surprise.

From the seaside bar that Jack Carpenter calls home to the glittering tourist kingdom in Orlando to the funky jungle of Coconut Grove, James Swain unleashes a wild ride into the heart of evil -- with the Rolling Stones' "Midnight Rambler" as the throbbing, terrifying soundtrack.

About the Author
JAMES SWAIN is the author of seven bestselling novels. In 2006, he was awarded the prestigious Prix Calibre 36 for Best American Crime Fiction. He lives in Florida with his wife, Laura.

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
No one would accuse James Swain of writing mandarin prose; in fact, he uses language with such blunt force he could be hammering in nails. But that's just the sort of directness you want in a story like Midnight Rambler, a sturdy thriller featuring Jack Carpenter, an ex-cop who finds missing children for understaffed police forces all over Florida.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Swain, author of the gambling crime series starring Tony Valentine (Grift Sense, etc.), avoids many of the clichés of the antisocial ex-cop novel in this chilling stand-alone. A specialist in finding missing children, former cop Jack Carpenter was fired from the force for assaulting a prisoner. Broke after a civil lawsuit and estranged from his wife and daughter, he's living in a seedy beachside apartment north of Miami, Fla., with his dog. Then Simon Skell (aka the "Midnight Rambler"), whom Carpenter helped convict for murdering prostitutes, is released from prison on a technicality. Determined to prove Skell guilty, Carpenter is frozen out by the cop on the case, but help comes from an FBI agent whose daughter vanished years earlier. The tension rises as the investigation widens far beyond Skell. Well-defined characters and intricately woven subplots, one involving a nail-biting scene at Disney World, make this a page-turner. 12-city author tour. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
The creator of casino expert Tony Valentine (Mr. Lucky, 2005, etc.) produces a suspense crossover with plenty of good news and bad for both private eye Jack Carpenter and his readers. Simon Skell used the Rolling Stones's "Midnight Rambler" as the musical accompaniment to the gruesome murders of all seven of his victims before runaway teen Melinda Peters's testimony about his abduction and abuse of her, set to the strains of "Midnight Rambler," sent him to prison. Now the body of another Rambler victim, prostitute Carmella Lopez, has turned up, horribly, in the backyard of Carmella's sister Julie. A thorough police search earlier provides the strongest possible proof that whoever buried it there wasn't Samuel Skell. So public opinion, expertly manipulated by Skell's lawyer Leonard Snook and Skell's prison bride Lorna Sue Mutter, is baying for his release-a development likely to have dire consequences for both Melinda and Jack Carpenter, the Miami missing-persons specialist whose pursuit of the Rambler was so hard-nosed that it got him tossed off the force. Gone private, Jack is every inch the detective he used to be, and the episodes in which he tracks down his latest targets-a newborn snatched from a hospital, a child taken from Disney World-are thrilling. But Swain's two-steps-forward-one-step-back plotting, redolent as it may be of real-life missing-persons cases, makes for wobbly suspense. And although Jack is given believable relationships with his estranged wife and his basketball-playing daughter, his methodical approach to the conspirators he discovers behind the elaborate serial-molestation plot can make you wince even when you're doing your best to root for him. Instead of usinghis information to fence them in, he repeatedly loses his cool and goes up against them directly, the antagonists alternately beating and terrorizing each other. Even so, Jack's likely to be a hit with readers who fantasize about noble roughnecks, and a sequel, maybe even a series, seems assured. Agent: Chris Calhoun/Sterling Lord Literistic Inc.
From the Publisher

Praise for James Swain and Midnight Rambler

“Midnight Rambler is a heavy hitter, fast and spare. Travis McGee meets Philip Marlow.”
–Randy Wayne White, author of Hunter’s Moon

“Moves like a bullet train on overdrive . . . I tore through this one without putting on the brakes. I guarantee you will, too!”
–Michael Connelly

“Midnight Rambler kept me up all night long, and Jack Carpenter is as appealing a hero as I’ve ever met. The only problem with Swain’s riveting thrillers is they end.”
–Tess Gerritsen, author of The Bone Garden

“Swain is one terrific writer.”
–The Wall Street Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781602833098
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
09/04/2007
Series:
Jack Carpenter Series, #1
Edition description:
Unabridged Edition
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Midnight Rambler A Novel of Suspense


By James Swain Ballantine Books Copyright © 2008 James Swain
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780345475473

CHAPTER ONE

My cell phone awoke me from a deep sleep. I didn’t get a lot of calls. Especially in the middle of the night. Opening my eyes, I stared into the darkness of my rented room. Hanging on the ceiling above my head were the smiling faces of my wife and daughter. They were like after-images of my former life, and they filled me with sadness. Lifting my arm, I tried to touch them, only to watch them melt away. My phone continued to ring. Grabbing it off the night table, I stared at its face. Caller ID showed a 305 area code, which was Miami/Dade County. The only people I knew in Dade were cops. I decided to answer. “Carpenter here.”

“Jack, this is Tommy Gonzalez. Sorry to wake you up.”

“What time is it?”

“Six in the morning. I’m in a jam, Jack. I wouldn’t have called you otherwise.”

Tommy ran the Missing Persons Division of the Miami/Dade Police Department and had gotten his training under me during a stint he did in Broward. Although he was only a few years my junior, I still considered him a kid.

“I’m listening,” I said.

“We lost a newborn at Mercy Hospital this morning,” Tommy said.

A knifelike pain stabbed mygut. “Abduction?”

“That’s what it looks like. I need help. Are you available?”

“I’m giving testimony at a homicide trial tomorrow. I’m supposed to be spending the day preparing for it.”

“Is this about the Midnight Rambler?” Tommy asked.

Another pain jabbed my gut, this one much deeper. The Midnight Rambler was my last case as a detective, and it had ruined both my career and my personal life. Each day I awoke wondering if I’d ever escape its dark shadow.

“No, this is another murder case,” I said. “I can come down and help you, but I can’t stay all day.”

“That’s fantastic,” Tommy said. “What’s your going rate these days?”

I was wide awake now, and I propped my back against the wall, which was cool against my bare flesh. My rent was due next week, and I was flat broke.

“Four hundred and fifty bucks,” I said.

“How’d you come up with that figure?”

“Need. Now tell me what happened.”

“Baby was born yesterday, name’s Isabella Marie Vasquez. Parents are a couple of well-known architects, built those fancy downtown skyscrapers that look like giant kid’s toys. Isabella got fed at four a.m. and was gone from her crib when a nurse checked fifteen minutes later. None of the other newborns in the maternity ward were touched. I sent my best investigator, and she combed the ward and interviewed the nursing staff, doctors, and cleaning people. No one saw anything, heard anything, or knows anything.”

“Think it’s an inside job?”

“I don’t know what to think,” Tommy said, sounding exasperated. “Mercy is one of the best hospitals in south Florida. I go there every year with a group from NCMEC, and we lecture the staff and administrators on how to lessen the likelihood of an abduction. When it comes to protecting babies, they know their stuff.”

“So they’ve hardened the target.”

“Absolutely.”

NCMEC, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, had done more to prevent child abductions than any other grassroots organization in the country. They lectured school and hospital staffs on how to make children safe, or what they called hardening the target. I didn’t like the sound of what Tommy had described, and climbed out of bed. My dog, sleeping beside me, got up as well.

“I’m leaving right now,” I said. “Depending on traffic, I should be there within the hour.”

“Park in the back and come through the emergency door,” Tommy said.


From the Hardcover edition.

Continues...

Excerpted from Midnight Rambler by James Swain Copyright © 2008 by James Swain. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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