5 stars out of 5
Ever since the first book I read in the John Jordan series by Michael Lister, I've been a huge fan. Admittedly, I've read only three prior to this one, but I'm far from done. This one, which is the seventh in the series, easily gets 5 stars from me once again - and it also has the distinction of being one of the saddest books I've ever read.
Although the author says it's best to read them all in order (a piece of advice with which I always agree), he adds that each can stand alone (I agree with this as well). That's perhaps even more true of this one; it's written as a prequel that takes readers back to Jordan's very first investigation - one that had a profound impact on the who and what he was to become. We see Jordan as a young man trying to sort out his intense interest in becoming a chaplain or a law enforcement officer and exploring whether combining the two would be a possibility. For the time being, he's left home for Atlanta - in the progress ignoring his police officer father's wishes for the first time in his life - to enroll in a church-run school for ministers.
Actually, the story began when John was 12, when he bumped heads with a man who was convicted of murdering some children in Atlanta. Never quite certain of the man's guilt, when John returned to Atlanta for school, he vowed to investigate further. As he gets started, he gets a call and a bit of advice from none other than Harry Bosch, a friend of his father (and, for those who might not know, the character in a best-selling series by Michael Connelly).
In Atlanta, he befriends a couple of disadvantaged boys as well as the owner of a local daycare center whose young son was snatched from her back yard and murdered several years earlier. Her daughter, the boy's older stepsister, also works at the center; all I'll say about that is that the course of true love never runs smooth. As he learns more about the situation - including a suspicion that all the murders may be somehow connected - John vows to keep investigating until he finds the murderer. The course of that, too, is far from smooth, putting him at odds with some nasty characters and taking his mind to some very dark places.
The ending is both surprising and definitely not pleasant for readers and disturbing, to say the least, to John. All in all, the book is a crucial part of the series and one that shouldn't be missed.
Innocent Blood by Michael Lister (Pulpwood Press, February 2015); 264 pp.