Watch Out for the Snake Charmer

Hit The Road Jack by Willow Rose is first in a series of “Jack Ryder” books. The novel is divided into three parts. All of it is interesting and an entertaining read but it is in Part III that the action explodes. It was worth reading the first two parts to get there. The end has a series of surprises; two of them are huge in the sense of “no way I could have seen that coming.”

I have read four of Willow Rose’s novels in the past so I was not surprised that this one would be about a serial killer. Rose is always interesting with the variations she introduces. This novel starts out with a killer who takes on the name Snakecharmer. Whether he personally likes snakes or not is immaterial; he uses them to gain entrance into the home of his intended victims. Once he alerts the intended victim to the danger, he offers to help by removing or killing the snake. Of course, the snakes are harmless and he recycles them at the home of his next kill.

Jack Ryder is a detective in the small tourist town of Cocoa Beach, Florida. Nothing much happened there and he had been a detective in a larger and more active force. But when his wife, Arianna, had left him with young twin children plus a third teenager Jack had “adopted, Jack decided to join the smaller force. His mom and dad operated a small motel in the town so they would be available to help with the kids, Jack had a condo near the motel and near the most important thing in Jack’s life, a beach where he could surf. Several times in the novel I thought Jack’s addiction to surfing was going to replace his active homicide investigations.

A further subplot involves a popular country singer, Shannon, who has lived through fifteen years of spousal abuse until she decides to run away from hubby with her daughter, Angela. One huge problem for her is that she is so easily recognizable. She runs away to Cocoa Beach. She stays in the motel run by Jack’s parents. Can anyone see what is coming here? That is OK, the lack of surprise in this subplot does not interfere with the much larger issues going on.

The Snakecharmer is busy. He is on a mission to deliver a final solution to a certain type of woman. The entire police force relies on Jack’s imported experience as a detective to find out what motives are in play. Jack can find no connections. As a reader, I couldn’t find any credible motives. The Snakecharmer does reveal his loathing for a certain type of woman but I could not figure out what event had precipitated the hatred.

This is a fun read for fans of crime fiction. Willow Rose has delivered some interesting twists. I gave this a four-star Amazon rating. It is a Kindle Unlimited (KU) book so I could have read it for free. Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans But I purchased the novel for USD 0.99. It stays in my library that way and I show it to students as an example of the type of writing I like.

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