Shot Girl by J. A. Konrath is part of a “Jack Daniels Thriller” series. For those with only a passing knowledge of things alcoholic, this parenthetical explanation (Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels Mysteries Book 12) might help. J. A. Konrath is one of my “go to” writers when I want to read a novel I already know is going to be good. There is no mystery about the quality of writing; it is superior. I can explore the current mystery Konrath has created knowing that I will be surprised several times along the storyline. For light reading, explore the author’s background and publishing history. You might set up a personal challenge. Can you read faster than Konrath can write? Even if you find you are not up to the challenge, you will have fun on the way.
Shot Girl has several hyperlinks leading to other novels in which Jack Daniels appears. She even resides in novels outside the Jack Daniels Thrillers. Konrath begins many of his novels with a note that his novels are stand-alone stories. Reading novels in any order is not required. I appreciated the hyperlinks as useful information and did not consider them as promotions for other novels. But if it works to sustain reader interest, value plus, WTH?
As with much that Konrath writes, there is more than entertainment. Readers can learn things. While reading Shot Girl, consider a couple of dictionary supplements. The Kindle internal dictionary will be of minimal help. The first recommended dictionary is a slang dictionary. There are several options free online for both use in the browser or as a download. The slang to look for is slang used by the successor generation to Millennials. If you have a Plurals in the house, free consultations are prolly. (Word spell and grammar check, as well as Grammarly, will have fun with the previous sentence). The second dictionary, also online, will feature terminology related to gun sales and slang related to gun acquisition regulations, how to get around them, and how to modify guns to do very bad things. A lot of this slang is like gang or criminal activity vocabulary. Unfortunately, many people are familiar with the meaning of Bump Stock. But Giggling or Paperweight? Maybe not. Konrath explains much terminology with context clues, but not all.
For much of this novel, Jack is a most unlikely protagonist or hero figure. Assisted by a wheelchair, she lives in a senior citizen home with Mary, her mother, who picked the Florida facility because it also served as a rehabilitation facility for a senior, over fifty-year-old population with challenges. Jack fits the criteria as she spent much of her time depressed. Jack no longer has a career, is unsure whether she can keep her husband, and is worried about the effect of her current physical disability on the development of her daughter Sam. Mary has arranged for Jack to give classes to the home’s Seniors on gun safety and what to do if caught up in an active shooter situation. There are extensive dialogues between Jack and several residents, all of whom have their interests in topical subjects such as the right to have a gun, the Stand and Defend rule, and the rights of individuals vs. the responsibility of a government to protect its citizenry. As a fun project, see if you can define Konrath’s views on any of these subjects before reading the Author Afterword.
The novel has to have a threat. For that, the reader will meet Gaff, an eighteen-year-old who, to celebrate a birthday, stole mom’s car and cleaned out the bank account. Turning off the GPS in mom’s car eliminated the possibility of tracking. A new South Carolina driver’s license allowed entrance to unregulated gun shows where it was possible to purchase guns without pesky forms to fill out.
Can we see where this is going? Of course, we can, and there is no need to write more about this excellent mystery with a lot of humor presented through dialogue while at the same time examining serious social issues through philosophical argument. I gave the novel five Amazon stars because of the quality of the writing and several clever ways of presenting thought-provoking ideas. Don’t miss the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Many readers may remember where they were when some of the quotes appeared; that will depend on the age of the reader. Be sure to read the epilogues; there are several. Pay attention to Epilogue Three in which an unexpected new character enters the story. I am interested in watching how this novel will be reviewed and accepted. Konrath writes about many emotional issues; I will be looking for revealed reader bias in reviews.
On to the next Konrath novel. This novel is available as a free read with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.