Fair Warning is the third Jack McEvoy thriller by acclaimed author Michael Connelly. The first two were The Poet and The Scarecrow.

It’s been too long since we have seen one of my favourite characters, writer Jack McEvoy. It’s great to have him back.

Once again he teams up with FBI Agent Rachel Walling. Together they investigate a disturbing murder case. A brief encounter with a woman in a bar places him as the number one suspect.

McEvoy works for the newspaper, Fair Warning. He sees finding the actual killer as not only a way to exonerate himself, but as an important public service. As an exciting departure from his usual consumer watchdog articles, he is ready to jump in with both feet.

Jack’s investigation leads him into a frightening world of secrecy and danger in which it appears that the popular passion of tracing ones genetic ancestry has a shocking dark side. Unbeknownst to the public, disturbed, menacing dregs of society are using DNA data banks to identify and stock their victims.

Jack discovers that within that complex and dangerous world a cunning and devious serial killer is on the loose. The Shrike has brutal manner by which his marks meet their untimely end. He is a clever bird who believes his smarts to be unmatched, and that he will always illude detection, but he don’t know Jack!

Or does he?

Fair Warning is a good, engaging read. Being a Connelly, it is tight and well-written, with a solid and current flavour.

Jack McEvoy is a great character. He is tenacious and human; both interesting and flawed. I enjoy the dynamics between him and Rachel, and how the story builds momentum.

The subject matter reflecting the current trend of the public freely submitting DNA to family tree sites and naively trusting its safety is disconcerting. At the very least it is a cautionary tale of fiction that could very easily cross over into reality. It is scary and certainly gives one pause.

One thing that would have put this novel completely over the top for me, would have been a more in-depth analysis of The Shrike; what drives him, what he thinks etc.. That, for me, would have made a formidable character, even more frightening, and would have landed Fair Warning within the ranks of Connelly’s brilliant and exceptional novels, The Scarecrow and The Poet.

That being said, Fair Warning is definitely interesting and engaging, and worth the read.

I hope that we hear from Jack McEvoy again. I want to find out what happens.

Fair Warning
Michael Connelly
A Jack McEvoy thriller
Little, Brown & Co 2020
396 pages

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