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Midnight Rambler Mass Market Paperback – 26 Aug 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 387 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (26 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034547547X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345475473
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.8 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,049,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for James Swain and Midnight Rambler
"Midnight Rambler is a heavy hitter, fast and spare. Travis McGee meets Philip Marlow."
-Randy Wayne White, author of Hunter's Moon
"Moves like a bullet train on overdrive . . . I tore through this one without putting on the brakes. I guarantee you will, too!"
-Michael Connelly
"Midnight Rambler kept me up all night long, and Jack Carpenter is as appealing a hero as I've ever met. The only problem with Swain's riveting thrillers is they end."
-Tess Gerritsen, author of The Bone Garden
"Swain is one terrific writer."
-The Wall Street Journal

"From the Hardcover edition."

Praise for James Swain and Midnight Rambler

"Midnight Rambler is a heavy hitter, fast and spare. Travis McGee meets Philip Marlow."
-Randy Wayne White, author of Hunter's Moon

"Moves like a bullet train on overdrive . . . I tore through this one without putting on the brakes. I guarantee you will, too!"
-Michael Connelly

"Midnight Rambler kept me up all night long, and Jack Carpenter is as appealing a hero as I've ever met. The only problem with Swain's riveting thrillers is they end."
-Tess Gerritsen, author of The Bone Garden

"Swain is one terrific writer."
-The Wall Street Journal


"From the Hardcover edition."

About the Author

James Swain is the author of seven bestselling novels. In 2006, he was awarded the prestigious Prix Calibre 36 for Best American Crime Fiction. He lives in Florida with his wife Laura.

"From the Hardcover edition."

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having read two other jack carpenter books i find the other two are slightly better but not by much.This is the first jack carpenter book and is still a very good storyline and goes along at a strong pace.Its about abduction as per usual because this is the main theme of his j carpenter storylines.Also featured is buster the dog and his wife and daughter.The fourth book is called the program which i must try to read, SO AS PER USUAL JUST GO OUT AND BUY IT.
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Format: Paperback
I have enjoyed all of James Swain's earlier books. Tony Valentine was a great character and the books were a great read. Now Mr. Swain has embarked on a new series which is even better. His new character is Jack Carpenter. And where Tony was rather polished, Jack has rough edges and his raw demeanor fits just perfect in the Midnight Rambler. Jack cares immensely for the victims of the crimes while having no tolerance for the bureaucracy which allows these criminals to run free.

In this age where we can be shocked by the crimes af Josef Fritzl can we only hope that there are dedicated real-life people who work so hard as Jack Carpenter to catch them and put them away.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 97 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Swain = Super Action! 25 Sept. 2007
By Armchair Interviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jack Carpenter is a former cop, turned abduction specialist. His last case on the force involved the "Midnight Rambler" a.k.a. Simon Skell. He got him convicted, but his methods forced his resignation - and cost him his wife. Even Jack's college-age daughter doesn't know what to think.

But Carpenter is good at what he does - and ekes out a living as a consultant to police department that need his experience to recover lost children. And he does just that. Then Jack's life threatens to unravel further. The body of the Midnight Rambler's last victim is found in her prostitute sister's backyard, with her pimp's cross, clutched in her hand.

Now the local radio shock jock is up in arms. Skell's wife and attorney are trying Jack in the media with his help, and more people are going missing. While the local police try to distance themselves from Jack, an FBI agent believes Jack's story - and together they begin to unearth a much greater problem than the Midnight Rambler. But getting to the truth puts everything at risk - witnesses who have stepped forward in the past are being killed or threatened, Jack's few remaining relationships are drying up, and someone's doing a great job of setting Jack up as the real Midnight Rambler!

The action never stops and you'd better be prepared to keep reading once you start! Like Tony Valentine (another of Swain's great characters), you'll find yourself pulling for Jack every step of the way.

Armchair Interviews says: Great to have a main character you really want to root for.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Swain Moves From Losing Casinos to Lost Children 25 Oct. 2007
By TMStyles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I first picked up a Swain novel revolving around his casino sleuth, Tony Valentine, several years ago and have read several since. I find the most interesting aspect of these Valentine novels to be the insights Swain provides into the underbelly of casino life. The rest of his work seems pedestrian and mundane to me and I began to wonder why I continued to read the series. When I read the slash page for "Midnight Rambler", I was quick to explore this new, "grittier" character and the promises of a new direction for Swain. Despite what you read in these reviews, Jack Carpenter is little more than recycled Tony Valentine in "Midnight Rambler".

In this first installment of an apparent new series, the promised grittier character that is more prone to violence and more explosive was apparently kept under wraps, or more accurately turned out to be Jack's dog, not Jack. The most exciting and interesting new character offered in this book is Jack's dog whose appearances I found myself anticipating more than Jack's. I did appreciate the insights into the realities of missing persons and lost children (statistical as well as anecdotal), and the harrowing scene in Disney World was a great case study in itself. But I felt the entire time that Tony Valentine had changed addresses and specialties.

There was a "softness" about the book and its characters in that as the mystery and conspiracy began to come into focus, the conspirators were too quick to "roll over" and take their medicine. I found a lot of character stereotyping from Jack's angry former police colleague, to Skell's groupie wife, to the fickle media, and to the child abusers themselves. There is a very readable mystery here, especially determining who the various conspirators are as things begin to unravel. But the various subplots are dealt with summarily and shallowly at times; for instance, there is little back story of why these abusers teamed up in the first place, what their interactions are, etc.

Warning disclaimer: Plot details follow for prospective readers. Similarly, the whole setup for Skell's release from prison and his intended revenge never really reaches the "payoff" the writer intended and I suspect the reader expected. The sudden demise of Skell's wife, his attorney, etc. seemed to be little more than sudden housecleaning by the author. And the author's failure to tie up all the loose ends--portending a follow up book is a device of which I have quickly grown weary.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (4.5) "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man will be king." 25 Sept. 2007
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ex-cop Jack Carpenter's damaged reputation is on the line, but even worse, his conscience won't let him give up on the case that ruined his career and cost him his marriage. Although a number of women have fallen victim to murderer-pedophile Simon Skell, only one count comes before the court, along with the corroborating testimony of a young woman held captive and tortured by the wily predator. When the body that got Skell convicted shows up in a relative's back yard, indicating another may be the killer, Skell is on the verge of being released. If that happens, he will come after Carpenter and the lone witness against him, a stripper in Ft. Lauderdale. Jack scrambles to put together a viable case and keep Skell where he belongs, a nearly impossible task considering the damage done to the witness's testimony and Jack's already tattered reputation. Piece by piece, Jack assembles an intricate case that goes beyond the usual pedophile profile.

Ever since he left the force, Carpenter has dedicated himself to finding missing children, a commitment he unfailingly pursues. While dedicated to stopping Skell, Jack takes time out to help desperate couples, offering a chilling view of the world of child exploitation. All too often, Jack must face the parents with the worst possible news, so it is a relief when he successfully completes a few rescues while dealing with Skell's uncanny manipulation of public opinion, Skell's wife and lawyer holding frequent press conferences, setting the stage for Jack's ultimate denouement. A little worse for wear, living alone with hopes of reuniting with his wife of twenty years, Carpenter is a sympathetic protagonist, the underdog mercilessly taunted by the past and the very public exposure of his mistakes. In spite of what his fellow cops believe, Jack is not a corrupt opportunist who takes advantage of helpless women, nor has he betrayed his conscience in self-interest.

Swain masterfully assembles his cast: the intrepid Jack Carpenter, his faithful dog by his side; the distrusting Ft. Lauderdale cops; the more-supportive FBI; a self-serving shock jock; a serial killer with a genius IQ and a thirst for vengeance; and a motley crew of low-life's and crooks who dwell in the shadows, child exploitation a lucrative business. Worse, they feed off the innocence of victims, a perverted brotherhood. Carpenter smashes Skell's carefully constructed house of cards, one by one, doggedly following the disparate clues to a stunning conclusion. As the action builds, the cast is propelled through a maze of back alleys and false identities, the monster at the core proving impossible to catch.

Too much is at stake, not the least of which is the only witness to Skell's sick obsession, the landscape littered with the disappeared. Revealing the ugly underbelly of a particularly heinous crime, Midnight Rambler is compelling, Jack Carpenter a man to watch, a lone wolf in pursuit of justice. From Jack's local haunts in Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando and Disney's Magic Kingdom, no action is wasted, the violence never gratuitous, law enforcement balanced with the amoral mindset of sociopathic predators, Carpenter caught in the middle of a paradigm that favors the rights of the criminal, but just crazy enough not to care. Luan Gaines/ 2007.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A great premise spread much too thin 5 Nov. 2008
By Ken Tekell, Jr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Let me start by saying that there are some good aspects to this book. The plot moves quickly and the basic premise of a serial killer tying his crimes to the lyrics of a Rolling Stones song is intriguing, like Charles Manson and Helter Skelter. Even though it has been done by many and to much greater effect, I actually like the ex-cop down on his luck character. It basically frees him up to handle things his own way with nothing to guide him but is own moral code. From that starting point almost anything can happen which is crucial for a thriller. And most of all I liked Jack Carpenter's niche: finding missing children. The profiling, and special forensics and intense investigation is fascinating.

That said, I found the characters, dialogue and writing style of James Swain to be very weak. Almost all of the characters are placed in the story to be a prop to aid the plot as it stumbles along. Each is very one dimensional and since we don't get to spend much time getting to know these folks it is very hard to generate any feelings for them, good or bad. I am sure that Simon Skell is a deeply disturbed and evil man but only because Jack Carpenter, the protagonist, tells me so. Unfortunately, Skell is only a name because we don't get to meet him until the very end and then only very briefly. I really wanted to hate this guy but I never got the chance. The lawyer, Snook, is a real slimeball but we didn't get a chance to spend any time with him, coming away with a slimy feeling. Even the good guys (and girls) in the story are held at arms length so I felt no connection. I want some good snappy dialogue that gives some insight into who these people are. And I want to feel some emotion: fear, dread, worry, anger, elation, and joy. Quite frankly, I felt robbed.

Finally, the setting. Florida is a great place to set a book and lots of authors have brought the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes to life (MacDonald, Hiaason, Hall). But I got very little atmosphere from Swain.

Again, there is much to like, especially if you aren't too demanding of your thrillers. I would love for this series to improve because I would love to follow Jack Carpenter around while he finds and returns children to their families. I hope the next book is a giant step forward.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven Thriller 18 Oct. 2008
By JoeV - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Midnight Rambler appears to be the first of a series featuring Jack Carpenter, a disgraced ex-cop, almost broke PI, who has a talent for finding "lost" children. The locale is the well worked ground of Southern Florida. Jack is a likeable protagonist - loving husband (although estranged from his wife), father (college age daughter) and dog owner (said dog borders on being a "partner" joining Jack on every road trip). Jack has a sense of humor, a temper, an exercise regimen, a set of seedy friends and enough "connections" to keep him informed or provide back-up and special favors when necessary. The plot revolves around the villain/case that sent Jack packing from the Police Dept. with his tail between his legs and now he has a chance to redeem himself. So all the formulaic "private eye bases" are covered.

The bad news. The story's plausibility factor is at times stretched beyond belief. The "bad guy", (with a genius IQ), not only manipulates his own cohorts but the justice system and its associated players - cops, forensic experts, judges - with an expertise that borders on farce.

Secondly, poor Jack with his "past" is constantly fighting an uphill battle in the credibility department with no one giving him the benefit of the doubt until the end.

The good news is that there are some extremely entertaining and poignant vignettes - for instance a kidnapping attempt at Disney World and the advice/solution Jack gives/provides to wealthy parents about the "disappearance" of their daughter.

Part of my problem with this book was the expectation level I had based on the previous reviews. Midnight Rambler is not a bad book - I just didn't find it a great thriller - simply an "average" one.
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