For me, author Willow Rose signals a guaranteed entertaining thriller novel, and this is true with Girl Next Door. She seems to specialize in serial killer tales. Even though I know this in advance, each of her novels catches me unawares with a surprise ending. Again, that is true with this novel but with a twist that I did not like. It had nothing to do with the mystery. That was good. Rose jumped back and forth in time to show the development of a splintered mind that would result in a serial killer. To find out who the killer was and discover motivation was like peeling an onion. Each layer had surprises; the novel was good and typical Willow Rose.
This is Book Five in the Jack Ryder series. It has 424 pages and was published on 10 October 2018. Its sequel, Book Six with the title of Her Final Word was published on 30 November 2018 and I will read it because I like the author’s writing. But I am not looking forward to it because the depiction of the character Jack Ryder in Girl Next Door was so unrealistic and disappointing. I will read the sequel with a type of morbid fascination to see if Rose Willow reconstructs a more realistic Jack Ryder. I don’t mind the cost because both novels are available on Kindle Unlimited as a free read to subscribers.
In Girl Next Door the entire relationship story of Jack Ryder with wife Shannon could be ripped out of this novel and repackaged as a romance novel complete with cover of a half-clad, sweating in the summer sun Jack. He would be waxing a surfboard. Shannon would be on a stage somewhere covered with as little clothing as possible while belting out a viral hit tune. At least there would be no bodices ripping. This side story of their relationship made it difficult for me to pay attention to the dismemberments and decapitations occurring elsewhere in the story.
We know from previous novels that Jack Ryder was a cop in the big city. He returned to his home of Cocoa Beach, Florida where he serves as a sometimes cop, whenever he has the time for it. His mother and father run a motel where Jack helps when he is not solving mysteries the small-town force cannot fathom. Part-time cop, a part-time handyman, full-time father in this novel to six children, Jack is lucky to have nearby parents to help him take care of the kids occasionally. Like when he is solving heinous crimes. Where is Shannon? She is on the road promoting her music career.
This means Jack must be a full-time daddy or househusband almost to the point of being a single parent. Readers going through the experience of raising children will be amused by the stories of recovered slime (a favorite toy of one child) and the impossibility of ever achieving a moment in the day when there is nothing to do but sit back and view with satisfaction a job well done. There will always be one more demand on the part of a child, especially when there are six to contend with. Some of Jack’s kids are insufferable but Jack treats them with some sort of new-age uber-liberal permissiveness that I found unrealistic for a character that must fish a least dirty garment out of a laundry basket for his daughter then proceed to a horrific crime scene.
Despite my unhappiness with Jack, I will read the next book in the hope that Willow Rose rescues Jack from Parent Purgatory. I usually give novels by this author five stars but for this one, I only give four. Good on crime and mystery. A bit thin on the psychological part. Totally unrealistic on the home front and parenting.