Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller

Unpunished by Lisa Black – Gardiner and Renner #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I requested this novel, I had had no idea that it was part of a series and that this was the second book. I usually try my best to read in order but I’ve been so busy with my school work that I knew I wouldn’t have the time to find the prequel and read it. I decided to just do my best, and give as informative an opinion as possible.

It begins with a most unusual death, the kind that makes headlines: a copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the newspaper assembly line, with a wide strap wrapped around his neck. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner is sure that this apparent suicide is anything but that – and soon the evidence suggests that this could be murder. With homicide detectives coming in to investigate, Maggie has little choice but to place her trust in the one man she knows cannot be trusted.

Jack Renner is a vigilante killer, with his own moral code. He uses his skills and connections as a homicide detective to go after the “bad guys” and take the law into his own hands. Everything was running smoothly… until Maggie found out about his secret. While Maggie has reluctantly made Jack promise not to kill others in the name of the law, he knows she doesn’t trust him. But with more newspaper employees winding up dead, Jack and Maggie must combine their efforts to unmask the killer.

After reading this, I can definitely say that reading the first book will be an asset in understanding and connecting with the characters in this novel. It was quite difficult in the beginning for me to keep all of the names straight and understand the relationships between the different characters mentioned. Eventually, the story took over and I got a hang of it all, but I never felt like I understood or connected with Maggie, Jack, or any other character in the novel.

That being said, this novel was certainly unique, and it is obvious that the author went to a lot of trouble in order to create a realistic setting. I learned a lot about the newspaper industry (maybe, a bit too much at times!) and it gave the story itself some character. The style of the writing and the way the characters acted reminded me of something from Law and Order or any other crime show; you’ve got a logical process by which murders are investigated, and all of the clues come together to form a cohesive picture. I quite enjoyed the story and the way it was structured! However, I will admit that it was a bit dry at places and I had to push myself at times not to lose interest.

Overall, this book was a good read with a strong plot. However, the characters lacked personality and the in-depth writing style, while creating a rich setting, can be hard to get through. I would recommend this novel for anyone looking for a solid detective story, as it is sure to please fans of this genre.

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