Fair Warning (Jack McEvoy and Rachel Walling Book 3)
Little Brown and Company
May 26th, 2020
Fair Warning by Michael Connelly brings back two of his best characters, journalist Jack McEvoy, and former FBI Agent Rachel Walling. Connelly, the master of mysteries, seems to have a ten-year-interval between series books. This hero and heroine were first introduced in one of the best suspense novels ever written, The Poet. Ten years later they came back in The Scarecrow, and now they are partners again in this book.
“I wrote this book as a reflection on what is going on with journalism now. This has always been an interest and focus of mine. The last few years there has been an era of “fake news,” and reporters labeled enemies of the people. It has bothered me because I had been a reporter for fourteen years. I know a free media is so important to society. I wanted to write a story showing an unbiased and undaunted journalist doing his job. FairWarning is a real news site offering tough watchdog reporting on consumer issues. It is a nonprofit founded by Myron Levin, who is Jack’s editor in the book. I am a member of FairWarning’s board of directors. To find out more information just go to FairWarning.org. I want readers to understand this is not science fiction.”
The book begins with the killing of a female during a sexual encounter. After being questioned by two police detectives, Jack McEvoy becomes a person of interest. It seems he had a one-night stand with the woman in the past. Against the warning of the police Jack decides to investigate and finds that there are other women killed in the same manner. Disguised as an accident, they have died of atlantooccipital dislocation, a broken neck, from a fall or by other means. What links the women together is that all of them had signed up for a DNA site called GT23. Jack believes they were victims of cyberstalking and convinces his skeptical editor that this indeed is a FairWarning story. GT23 charges users only $23, explaining in the fine print in its contracts that the low fee is possible because the company sells data to various users. It doesn’t disclose that such companies sometimes resell the information. What the women, DRD4 or “dirty four”, have in common is that they have an addiction gene, either alcohol, drugs, or sex.
“Last year, I read a storyline where the Pentagon warned people about DNA sites. I put this quote in the book, “Did you know that this year the Pentagon told all member of the military not to do DNA kits because of the security issues they pose?” This sparked my imagination and interest. The old reporter in me found this world is pretty much unregulated. The government is studying what regulations should be put on this billion-dollar industry. Because the government moves slowly there has been no oversight and leaves a place for corruption. I put my research into the book. I like it when there is a blurred line between reality and fiction.”
Knowing he cannot investigate on his own, Jack asks his former girlfriend, Rachel Walling, to help out. The two pick up where they left off two years ago, both professionally and personally. Together they find that the women’s information is sold to incel (involuntary celibate) men, who blame women for their inability to find sex partners. One of these women-haters is the killer known as the Shrike. They race to find the killer before he strikes again, putting their lives in danger.
Connelly noted, “Jack is able to connect more with readers through his relationship with Rachel. Since this is a book about DNA I would say that in the center of his DNA is ‘I must protect my story from everyone,’ including other reporters, the police, his boss, and even Rachel. This is not a great way to function, but he is set in his way. I think readers like Rachel on the first page they meet her. There has to be a DNA gene for female fierceness, which is what she has. She is fiercely protective of what is important to her. She fiercely has the ideas of fairness and righteousness. She is a great role model for anyone that sees women as fierce fighters who stand up for justice. I think Rachel is the ultimate hero of these stories. She is tough and is the centerline to keep Jack from flying out of orbit.”
He further stated, “They are made for each other in short bursts because they cannot go the distance. They always seem to be entangled with each other. Besides being a character in her own right, she is like the carnival barker that gets people into the Jack tent. They go in because of her. Unlike this couple, I do not have it in my own life. I have been happily married for 36 years. I am writing about something that is not akin to me, which for me, makes it fascinating to write about.”
Connelly fans will not be disappointed with this gripping and riveting plot. The main characters are a fabulous team that makes the story stand out. Readers will be on the edge of their seats and can only hope that the next book with this duo happens much sooner than later.