Miriam Caine is having dinner with her son David at Incendie, an up-scale restaurant, when she seemingly spontaneously bursts into flames. Restaurant manager Troy Berrigan is first to assist in putting out the flames, but Miriam later dies of her injuries.
Other mysterious attacks occur. A woman is shoved off a platform in front of a train. Acid is thrown onto several teenagers at a shopping centre. And a cop is killed when a Molotov cocktail is thrown into his car and he crashes into a bus.
This cop happens to be Scotty Hutchinson, partner at work and in bed, of Sgt Jill Jackson. She has a complete meltdown at the news of his death, and is sent to a retreat to recover. She asks that Federal Agent Gabriel Delahunt keep her in the loop in regards to the case's progress.
The main suspect seems to be Troy Berrigan. An ex-cop, he's hated by the police force after turning whistleblower, and they're all eager to pin it on him, despite lack of evidence. Whilst coping with family issues of his own, he sets out to find the truth and clear his name.
Which is more than Jill Jackson can do, and she's supposed to be the main character in this story. I barely remember a thing about "Vodka Doesn't Freeze" (I read it more than six years ago), which was the first book in this series. I mentioned in that post that Jill wasn't a particularly cluey detective, and nothing seems to have changed here in book number four. (I haven't read parts two or three). There certainly isn't a thing she figures out for herself, unless you count who was stealing lollies at the private retreat. Yes, really.
What is the point of having a central protagonist in your series if said protagonist is going to sit most of the story out, behaving like a hot mess? When I read "Vodka Doesn't Freeze" I had a lot of trouble believing Jill Jackson could even get in to the police force considering she had not recovered from a horrific childhood that involved being kidnapped and raped for three days when she was twelve. Here, while in the squad room discussing Scotty's death, she begins to imagine her boss calling her a whore, at which point she starts screaming non-stop, and crawls under a desk.
She then self-destructs completely and behaves like a belligerent child when concerned friends and family try to get her psychological help.
Grief aside, this is not the sort of person you want running about the city while licenced to carry a gun.
Therefore, we have an okay mystery thriller padded out to an extreme length thanks to Jill's stay in a psychiatric retreat. It has nothing to do with the rest of the story. I'm sure it's accurate, as Giarratano is a psychologist, but it's not terribly exciting or suspenseful. It doesn't add to the main plot, and it further makes me wonder how the f*** Jill manages to remain employed when she's clearly a childish, selfish basket-case (yes, I know she suffered horrendous abuse as a child, but she knows she's behaving like a douche and just uses this past as a way to excuse it).
Don't the police require some sort of psychiatric review in order to become and remain a cop?
HOW DOES JILL PASS THESE TESTS? She flips out completely at work and nobody seems to bat an eyelid.
Troy Berrigan is a decent protagonist. He at least takes charge of his situation, and I felt bad for him trying to do the right thing all the time, and only getting in strife for it.
There aren't many suspects in the crime, the motivation given is pretty lacking, and the story doesn't offer many surprises. Probably because we spend too much time with Jill in meltdown mode, rather than beefing up the storyline. Too much time was also spent with the character of Erin Hart and, although she's not unlikeable, it should have become clearer sooner what sort of importance she had in the story. Lots of chapters about the ins-and-outs of her life with little clarification as to why I should care.
It wasn't awful (close), and was reasonably diverting. It also looks like the last of the Jill Jackson series. Giarratano (like a lot of other authors), has seemingly moved on to young adult supernatural/dystopian stories. I guess you need to go where the money is.