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Without Warning by David Rosenfelt

I had already started reading another book when I started Without Warning by David Rosenfelt.  The other book isn't a library book, but Without Warning is, so I decided to read that one.  When I first started reading this book, I wasn't sure I'd stick with it.  Then after several chapters, the story sucked me in, and it was hard to put down.  I mostly wanted to see how the story ended and who the mastermind was behind the big crime and why the perpetrator was doing what he was doing.  I feel as if the whole motive behind the crimes was one of misplaced blame and rage.  It's clear the perpetrator is local, that he/she has spent years meticulously planning their revenge and that both protagonists know this person. Ultimately this person is hiding in plain sight under an alias.  And I kind of wondered why Jake didn't recognize the person sooner.

In the wake of a hurricane that has devastated a small, Maine town, the local newspaper publisher, Katie Sanford, and her managing editor, Matt Higgins, unearth the town's most recent time capsule that had been buried five years previously to check for water damage.  When they dig it up, they are shocked to find a human skeleton atop the capsule.  Katie calls in the local police chief, Jake Robbins, to report the decomposed skeleton.  The next day when Jake opens the capsule to check its inventory against the list that Katie has brought along, an extra unlabeled box of predictions is found in the capsule.  The predictions in the box are cryptic and tell of forthcoming tragedies that started the year after the capsule is buried.

The first of these tragedies is the murder of Jake's wife, Jenny, at the hands of her lover, Roger Hagel, who was Katie's husband.  The presence of this prediction re-opens the case of Jenny's murder, although Roger's eventual exoneration comes too late for him since the man was himself murdered in prison.  What is clear about the murders that have already occurred and were foretold in the set of chronological predictions in the unlabeled box is that each victim is connected to Jake.  In fact, Jake could be seen to hold a grudge against each of the victims although that wasn't actually the case for all of them.

Meanwhile, Katie and Jake have a complicated relationship.  The two were high school sweethearts who parted ways when they went to college, after they returned home with their respective spouses, the couples became friends.  However, upon the revelation of Jenny and Roger's affair and in the aftermath of her subsequent murder that friendship implodes.  Now that this new case has brought Katie and Jake back into each other's orbit, the two are pleasantly surprised by a spontaneously blossoming romance.  But their romantic entanglement is complicated by the case of the time capsule murders, and it must take a back seat until the case is solved.  When Katie suddenly disappears days after an attempt on Matt Higgins' life the pressure is on Jake to figure out who is targeting these people and why and what the person's endgame is.

Short chapters of shifting perspective help move the action along.  Despite the darkness of the story, the writing tone itself is light and at times humorous.  This is ultimately a thrilling page turner even if the reveal of the bad guy(s) and their motive seemed to pop up out of nowhere and was a little rushed.  And there is at least one chapter in which the copy editor really didn't do his/her job.  Harold a.k.a. Howard Novack, the newspaper's legal counsel, switches first names--in fact, in one sentence he is referred to by one first name at the beginning of the sentence and then by the other name at the end of the sentence.  Overall, there were several instances throughout the book that needed a tighter copy editor.  The incident with the name switcheroo really took me out of the story because I had to go back to double check and re-read it to make sure I was actually reading it correctly.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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