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by John Misak
Empire Strikes Press, June 2004
276 pages
ISBN: 0974992623

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

John Keegan, homicide detective for the New York City Police Department almost lost his job on his last case and now he has to solve the murder of the adult granddaughter of one of New York City's most powerful senators.

Keegan's partner, Rick Calhill, isn't making things any easier. Because of his marital problems, Calhill's thoughts are on his failing marriage and on some Internet flirting he does with women on the side. Keegan has promised himself that he will try to be nice to Calhill but it's not easy, since Keegan doesn't particularly like his partner.

After Keegan and Calhill question everyone who worked with the murdered woman, along with her next-door neighbor, Calhill is positive that her boss is guilty of the homicide and is ready to make the arrest. Keegan isn't as sure. Suddenly there's another murder of a young woman and the two detectives need to figure out if the same person is responsible for both homicides.

The press is certain that these two murders are linked with other deaths in the city. Now all of NYC thinks that there is a serial murderer on the loose and it's up to the detectives to find out if this is true.

Keegan and Calhill are about as different from each other as two men can get. Keegan is sarcastic and funny and worries why he's attracted to the dead granddaughter lying in front of him. He's superficial and dates only pretty women. He can't keep any kind of relationship and all of them end in break-ups.

Calhill is married with children and loves his wife deeply, but he still plays around on the side. He's nonetheless determined to make his marriage work even though he sees that it's slowly going down the tubes.

Author John Misak is a skillful, first-rate writer. He knows how to take a story line, craft it well, and fill it with lots of detail and excitement.

The plot in ALL IN A ROW is engrossing. I enjoyed all the different twists as we follow the detectives as they work to solve this case. As you read the book you really don't have any strong idea of who's responsible for the murder until you get towards the end. That's when things change abruptly in yet another spellbinding twist. It's great story telling on Misak's part.

Unfortunately, I have to say that this book suffers from sub-standard editing and proof-reading. I'm not the type of person who expects perfection in books that I read, I've learned to overlook typos and bad punctuation here and there, but honestly there are way too many of them in this edition. Once I even had to go back to try to decipher who a specific character was, then I realized that the wrong name was used. Many times the punctuation was so bad that I was forced to stop reading and had to spend time trying to figure out who was talking. On more than one page the spacing of the text and lines were so bad that I had trouble reading. It's a shame that such a fine book was harmed in this way.

Even with the editing problems I enjoyed ALL IN A ROW tremendously. It has a great plot, interesting twists, enjoyable characters, and Misak knows how to write a chase scene that's original and heart-pounding.

Grab a copy of ALL IN A ROW and settle yourself in for an exciting novel. Do your best to ignore the editing problems and concentrate on the plot. You won't be sorry.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, August 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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