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Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly (McEvoy #2)

The Scarecrow (Jack McEvoy, #2)The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  For Jack McEvoy, the killer named The Poet was the last word in evil.  Think again, Jack.

Jack McEvoy is at the end of the line as a crime reporter. Forced to take a buy-out from the Los Angeles Times as the newspaper grapples with dwindling revenues, he's got only a few days left on the job. His last assignment? Training his replacement, a low-cost reporter just out of journalism school. But Jack has other plans for his exit. He is going to go out with a bang — a final story that will win the newspaper journalism's highest honor — a Pulitzer prize.

Jack focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer from the projects who has confessed to police that he brutally raped and strangled one of his crack clients. Jack convinces Alonzo's mother to cooperate with his investigation into the possibility of her son's innocence. But she has fallen for the oldest reporter's trick in the book. Jack's real intention is to use his access to report and write a story that explains how societal dysfunction and neglect created a 16-year-old killer.

But as Jack delves into the story he soon realizes that Alonzo's so-called confession is bogus, and Jack is soon off and running on the biggest story he's had since The Poet crossed his path years before. He reunites with FBI Agent Rachel Walling to go after a killer who has worked completely below police and FBI radar—and with perfect knowledge of any move against him.

What Jack doesn't know is that his investigation has inadvertently set off a digital tripwire. The killer knows Jack is coming—and he's ready

Read as an audio book.

This is a loose follow up to Jack McEvoy's role in The Poet, which I reviewed earlier here: The Poet. 

The Scarecrow takes place some 8 to 10 years later. Jack has just received word that he's being laid off from the Los Angeles Times, and oh, by the way, he has to train his replacement, Angela. In less than a week, everything goes dreadfully wrong, Angela is dead, and Jack calls FBI agent Rachel Walling in to help. It gets worse from there when Jack and Rachel uncover a very sly and devious murder.

I don't know if it was my mood, or the book, or a combination of both, but I grew impatient with the plot. I've mentioned in the past that I'm not a fan of knowing what the antagonist is doing, and after a while, I just started skipping over any bits written from the antagonists point of view. Most of those were only about 5 or10 minutes in length and relatively short compared to Jack's chapters. I noticed when I started skipping those chapters, I never felt like I was missing anything and I wasn't left confused about what was happening next. Not a good sign when I could skip a chapter - even a small one - and still stay on top of the plot.

I did like the Jack and Rachel connection. It still fell under the "guy beds the girl trope", but this time it felt more natural because Jack and Rachel had a past history that brought them to this point in time. So, the relationship in this worked.

Overall, a decent mystery that would have perhaps been better if we could have seen less of the antagonist and Jack thinking a bit more before he when running off to save the day.

Recommended if you've read the Poet.

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