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Without Warning by David Rosenfelt
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250024794
Date: 25 March 2014 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

In the small, isolated town of Wilton, Maine, a dam breaks. Fearing that the contents of a time capsule--buried five years ago--have been damaged, Police Chief Jake Robbins has it unburied. A man's skeleton is found on top of the capsule. His killer has planted predictions inside the capsule, some of which have already come true. One of them involves the murder of Jake's unfaithful wife, Jenny. It becomes obvious that her lover, Roger Hagel, didn't stab her to death. Soon, a vicious serial killer begins making more predictions come true by slaughtering, one by one, everyone around Jake and making him appear responsible.

Without a doubt, Without Warning is one of the best standalone novels that David Rosenfelt, author of the best-selling Andy Carpenter series, has written. From cover to cover, this novel is extremely shocking and violent. A vicious serial killer, who calls themselves the Predictor, is consumed with anger and rage; they are deadset on obtaining revenge against Jake Robbins and don't care how many innocent people are killed in the process. Owing to an extremely high bodycount, the plot moves along like a runaway train. The mystery aspect of this thriller is a complex one. I was only able to partially solve it. Fortunately, the novel's hero is more intelligent than I am.

Jake Robbins is a decorated war hero who served in Afghanistan. A former Marine Captain, he rescued several of his men. He shies away from publicity. However, no one, especially the Predictor, will let him forget he was a hero. As the bodycount escalates, the FBI's suspicion of Jake being the serial killer increases. His love for Katie Sanford, publisher of the Wilton Journal, also increases despite her having been married to Roger Hagel who supposedly killed Jake's wife, Jenny. The reader can't help but feel sympathy for Jake as he is framed for the murders. Throughout his ordeal, Jake manages to maintain his silly humor that I found endearing. For example, when he is introduced to Special Agent Sean Bennett and Special Agent Steve Barone, he asked if all FBI agents were special.

As I stated earlier, Wilton is a small, isolated town. It has a population of approximately 18,000. Wilton is compared to the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, of The Andy Griffith Show. In this sparsely populated town, it is easy to kill because no one ever sees anything. Furthermore, some of the murders occur in nearby towns that are also small. An apartment fire in Union Hills claims eleven victims. The serial killer is an amoral beast. Despite the setting consisting of primarily small New England towns, the disaster that the Predictor plans to create will affect literally millions of people. Many of the author's novels involve the hero attempting to divert a major disaster.

Indeed, David Rosenfelt's mysteries are very over the top and action driven. They are not character driven. (Many characters don't survive for more than a few pages.) Rosenfelt relies heavily on narration rather than dialogue. He uses words, especially those pertaining to description, sparingly. No one can accuse his novels as being verbose or overly padded with unnecessary details. They are perfect for someone like me who works two jobs and doesn't have much time to read. Guaranteed to be entertaining, Rosenfelt's novels are suitable for long plane trips and for lounging on the beach or next to a pool. Regardless of where I plan to read it, I can't wait for his next standalone mystery.

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