J.A. Konrath writes a lot under the Konrath name and even has at least one pseudonym. That much is revealed on an Amazon author page. I resisted the temptation to count how many novels he has written. I am sure the total number of published works is revealed somewhere but the information would just settle in my pile of never reviewed facts next to my books TBR pile. In the Jack Daniels thriller series, there are eleven novels with catchy names like Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, and Rusty Nail. You get the idea. In all novels of this series Jack (for Jacqueline), Daniels appears as a clever, witty, and super smart detective. You can pause now and think of all the clever play on words that the detective’s name might give rise to. When finished, think about this novel, Shot of Tequila. It seems another clever title in the series. Not true. Jack Daniels is a very busy detective. She wandered outside the boundaries of a series devoted to her and appears in this stand-alone novel, as well as in nine others. Jack also appears in approximately fourteen novellas. All figures are plus or minus one or two. As you might note, I could construct a supplementary TBR shelf for JA Konrath novels alone. Then I could begin with novels that he has written in collaboration with others.
I have found few writers who write so much and still manage to remain fresh. Joyce Carol Oates comes to mind, but her novels skip through a bunch of genres. Konrath stays with horror, thrillers, and mysteries with twists. JA Konrath is one of my “Go To” writers when I get bored with reading. After reading a couple of his novels I am energized with the idea of reading, writing to prompts, and seeking new indie authors for fresh ideas. Sometimes my absence from Konrath world is longer than planned so I was happy to get an author email reminding me of all the great stuff I had yet to read. Konrath was not offering ARC copies but was reminding readers to go to his Amazon page where there are many great reads available for USD 0.00. Many others are available for USD 0.99. If you haven’t read Konrath, go to his Amazon author page. It will be worth your time and money in shopping for interesting reading at the great price of free or almost free. If you have read Konrath, you will go there anyway.
For this novel, Shot of Tequila, it is not a spoiler to note that Tequila is the name of the main character who is not Jack Daniels. Jack, of course, plays an important part as she goes about solving a crime that involves Tequila. Jack cannot decide if Tequila is a criminal or some sort of social justice vigilante who does bad things to bad people for good reasons. The reader will have to make his own assessment by the end of the novel. Reader’s assessments may differ from Jack’s assessment. Konrath’s writings are stories of the struggles between good and evil and to that extent, some may say his writing is formulaic. But at the ending of Konrath’s novels, I frequently am left with the question, “What just happened?” For me, that is the appeal of his novels.
Billy Chico needed money to pay off a gambling debt and there was no way to get it quickly. He would have to get it the old-fashioned way (for Billy). He would rob a convenience store. Billy was inept as a robber; he was taking too much time arguing with the store owner about safes and time locks. Tequila had waited patiently outside the store. He had no part in the robbery, but he was interested in Billy’s success. As a debt collector for Maniac Marty, Tequila did not want the police to arrive before Billy left with the cash. Tequila entered the store to warn Billy as Billy was becoming increasingly nervous. Once Tequila assessed the situation as totally unstable, Billy never had a chance. Billy would have been amazed at the speed with which Tequila drew and fired multiple rounds into him, but Billy’s mind didn’t react that fast. One murder was done. Sounds like a case for Jack Daniels.
At the same time as the convenience store robbery but far across town, there was another robbery. A couple of people invaded and robbed Maniac Marty’s accounting room where more than a million dollars was stored. As profits of an illegal enterprise, this robbery would not be reported to the police. Jack Daniels would not know of it. But a security videotape revealed to Marty that one of the robbers resembled Tequila, his favorite debt collector. The heights were the same. The clearly visible butterfly tattoo on a hand of one of the robbers was another clue. Marty was incensed. He wanted (and needed) his money back. Marty would use his other debt collectors to find Tequila and get his money back. There would probably be torture involved but sometimes work could also be mixed with fun.
Readers know early in the novel that Tequila didn’t rob Marty. Who did? How did they do it? Why did they do it? Whoever it was must protect the scheme and that means several people will have to die. Maybe even Tequila. But Tequila is a typical bad boy hero. He shoots fast and accurately from specially designed holsters. His accuracy is unaffected by the imprecise sights on at least one pistol. He is a master of every fighting style known to man and has the flexibility of an Olympic class gymnast. His ability to read other people based on their body language assures he will always know the intention of others even before the cognitive abilities of others kick into action. If he could fly. he would be a superhero.
So, who needs Jack Daniels? We all do because she lives on the right side of the law while Tequila is a criminal. He might have a soft heart for some people but as far as Jack is concerned, it looks like Tequila might be responsible for a spate of recent murders. Jack will remain ignorant of a million-dollar heist for a long time.
What makes Jack Daniels novels different from others is the humor in dialogue with Jack. Some of it approaches absurd in its context, something I find amusing. There is dark cop humor. As an ex-cop, I find that also amusing. And for a reason that surprises me with every Konrath novel I read, it is a fast read, a page-turner. Having found nothing negative to say, I gave Shot of Tequila five Amazon stars. Of course.