Tracing your ancestry is all the rage the last few years and a lot of folks are doing it by way of various genetic testing sites. Many people are totally unaware that once you send off your genetic material, the company that receives your genetic materially can legally do pretty much do anything they want with it and nobody is the wiser. It can be used, as law enforcement has done, to catch a serial killer last active decades ago or for any purpose by anyone who buys it from the originating company. While the FDA claims governing authority, they have not set the rules so pretty much anything goes in this brave new world of genetics. That is a major theme of the latest novel by Michael Connelly, Fair Warning.

It has been a few years since we last saw Jack McEvoy. These days he works for a consumer protection news reporting site, FairWarning. It is a small five-person operation run by Editor and Founder Myron Levin. (Note: both the online publication and Myron Levin exist in these roles and author Michael Connelly is a member of the board of directors for the nonprofit.) these days, veteran reporter Jack McEvoy is not working his usual police beat as he now writes stories on consumer issues. As the book opens, he has just turned in a piece about scammers at work in the field of debt collection and how they deliberately fake things to get consumers to pay off nonexistent debt. (Also a real thing and something that happened to this reviewer a few years ago).


Upon arriving at his apartment at the end of his workday, Jack McEvoy is met by LAPD Homicide Detectives Mattson and Sakai. They have questions for him along with a bit of an attitude on Mattson’s part. Eventually, after a bit of back and forth, he finds out that a woman who he knew as Tina and spent just a couple of hours within an intimate way was found dead in recent days. Christina Portrero was brutally murdered by way of, basically, twisting her head around ninety degrees so that everything in the spinal area of the neck violently broke loose. Because of the fact that McEvoy’s number is in her contacts list on her cell phone and his books are on an night table in her place, the Detectives knew he knew her in some way and claim they want to rule him out as a suspect.


The detectives want a voluntary saliva sample for DNA analysis which tell McEvoy that there has to be some form of DNA on her body. As he knows that he cannot possibly be a match, he gives the detectives what they want and sends them on their way. That is after they ask him to take his short off so they can visually inspect him for scratches which tells him that they may have evidence from under her nails. Either way, he is clean and not worried about being a suspect other than he does not appreciate being part of their investigation or the fact they both seemed to have increasing attitude as they wasted his and their time.


He gets to work on solving her murder despite the fact that both the police and his editor want him to leave the story alone. The police want him to stay out of the way. His editor argues that this kind of thing isn’t his beat anymore, not what FairWarning does, and that he needs  to be working on real news stories for their readers and not revisiting by way of this homicide his old glory days. That is until, thanks to McEvoy’s digging and a little help from his old friends, it  begins to become clear that Tina was the latest of a string of murders with links to DNA analysis by a certain company that provides ancestry information and other things.


A crime read based in large part on fact, Fair Warning by Michael Connelly is a fast paced and intense book. Not only is it a mighty good tale, the read is a cautionary warning about the wild west of DNA research these days as millions of people give up their biological material with very few safeguards or second thoughts. Those issues are thoroughly explained and scattered throughout the book as the author does not info dump. Instead, those pieces of information are slowly added to the tale as background info while Mr. Connelly kept ratcheting up the pace and the hunt for a killer. The result is a really good book. Fair Warning is definitely well worth your time.



Fair Warning

Michael Connelly

Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group)

May 2020

ISBN# 978-0-316-53945-6

Large Print Hardback (also available in audio and eBook formats)

512 Pages



My reading copy came by way of the Fretz Park Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2020


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