Eighteen years ago, as a patrol officer, Jack Carpenter responded to an assault call at the Sunny Isle apartment complex. He made several mistakes that fateful day in 1992 and didn’t stop the abduction of Naomi Dunn. That event haunted and shaped his career with the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.


These days he is divorced, his daughter plays for the Lady Seminoles of Florida State Basketball team, and he has been booted off the police force leaving him free to run a business investigating missing persons. After single handily solving the latest child disappearance for his old unit (all members that he picked and trained and are frequently overwhelmed and call for his help despite the fact that he isn’t wanted around the department) his daughter asks for his help with a stalker problem. A creep is hanging around the team taking pictures and she is a bit rattled. That request leads to abduction and a chance to redeem himself regarding Naomi Dunn.


This latest in the Jack Carpenter series (“Midnight Rambler” and “Midnight Stalker”) features two brief appearances by the author’s signature and far more complex character Tony Valentine. Those brief appearances do little to help this book and come across more as author self indulgence more than anything. Despite the secondary title label of “a novel of suspense” there is very little suspense since it is clear from early on who the bad guys are. The read reminds one of a John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport series novels of recent years in that the character depth is non-existent, the bad guys are known virtually from the start, and the whole point is action, followed by more action, and still more action in hopes the reader doesn’t notice how weak the plot is. While Davenport has his team and Jack Carpenter is a one man band, both characters thrive off of coincidence, making routine mistakes that shouldn’t happen, and continuing the chase far longer than it should have needed to go on.


That being said, while it isn’t a Tony Valentine novel, it does provide cotton candy escapist reading for however long it takes you to finish the book. Considering the state of the world and publishing these days that might be the new normal standard.


The Night Monster: A Novel of Suspense

James Swain


Ballantine Books (Random House Publishing Group)


September, 2009

ISBN# 978-0-345-51546-9

336 Pages



ARC for review was provided by the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009



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