by L.J. Sellers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’m not exactly unbiased on the topic of L.J. Sellers’ Detective Wade Jackson series. I’ve read and loved all eleven books and reviewed several glowingly on this blog (for example, Crimes of Memory and Rules of Crime). Let me see if I can explain why I’m such a fan by reviewing Sellers’ latest, Death Deserved (Thomas & Mercer 2016).
In this story, Detective Jackson must juggle the murder of a worker at a marijuana store with the possible poisoning of his boss and a what he fears is a recurrence of a personal health problem. The story is well-conceived, topical in its insights into the growing and selling of legal marijuana, with tightly-woven plots and subplots that build throughout the story, never distracting from each other, until we reach a final unpredictable conclusion. Sellers’ signature insight into police procedures is precise and fascinating as usual–probably a big reason why many are drawn to her novels:
“Lieutenant Miller would handle them from the command center, after sending in a cell phone duct-taped to a remote-controlled hailer. Best-case scenario, the suspect would accept the cell phone and engage in conversation, letting his frustrations and demands be known. … Worst-case scenario, he would refuse to negotiate and continue to threaten himself or others.”
Character descriptions are always good, with believable actions and reactions, and contribute to the visuals of the story:
“Sergeant Bruckner–a wall of muscle with a shaved head and a big voice…”
Twelve words and we know a lot about what Bruckner looks and how he acts. In this next snippet, Sellers describes a female SWAT agent as she heads out on her first call:
“Not only was this the day she might shoot someone, it was also the day she might die on the job. She’d faced plenty of those as a patrol officer, but none had been expected. She’d never purposely put herself in harm’s way before–not counting the time she’d boarded a moving airplane piloted by a killer.”
But the star–Detective Jackson–is memorable for all of his complexity. He’s tough but kind, firm but understanding, the overworked crime fighter who knows when to take time for the people who depend upon him, a man who seems transparent but may be hiding secrets. It’s not hard to see why Detective Jackson is considered one of the outstanding fictional detectives in literature today (not to be compared to retired detectives like Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Clouseau).
The story is set in Eugene Oregon with all the authenticity that a native (which Sellers is) brings to the descriptions and the story’s sense of place. It’s rich, detailed, with the touches that make natives love their city. No wonder L.J. Sellers is a four-time Readers’ Favorite Award winner and one of the highest-rated crime fiction authors on Amazon.
–copy of book from NetGalley in return for an honest review
More detective novels:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Her debut novel, To Hunt a Sub, launches this summer. You can find her nonfiction books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.