Nine by Jan Burke
A drug kingpin on the FBI's Most Wanted list is found hanging upside down over a bathtub, his corpse drained of blood. The killing looks like an organized-crime payback hit--until another Ten Most Wanted criminal is found similarly strung up, and then another. Soon Detective Alex Brandon of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department is grappling not only with a testy partner and a complicated home life, but also with a band of brilliant vigilantes whom the public starts to regard as heroes.
Alex Brandon is almost too good to be true, with his penetrating blue eyes, his steely toughness, his politeness, and his tenacious smarts. But Jan Burke--best known for her Hardcover edition.
Disappointed, August 22, 2003
You start out thinking that this can't be what it seems. Early on, we learn about a small group of spoiled rich kids (early- to mid-twenties) who have decided to go after the criminals on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. That's right. Four guys with no police training or other relevant experiences start capturing and killing the most dangerous criminals in America. It does not matter if the criminals are heavily guarded drug kings or international terrorists. These four guys, with nothing but money and antisocial personalities, can do easily what the FBI and police can not. Not only can they find, capture, kill and return the bodies to southern California, they are able to take care of several of these most-wanted criminals a week (even the ones living outside the country). Of course, a savvy reader sees this as preposterous and expects the author will soon make clear what the real story is behind the murders. But halfway through, you realize that Jan Burke is serious. She wants us to buy the premise along with a number of other absurdities (one example -- a suspect is found murdered, and law enforcement people start to act as if the case is solve; the lead investigator does not even bother to inform his partner of this development until the next morning). I won't give away the rest, except to say that the motive, when we learn it, does not even come close to accounting for the main antagonist's behavior. I suppose if you like cartoonish plots and characters, this story works. With enough suspension of disbelief, I can see how the book could even be fun. However, it is apparent from the writing that Burke wants us to take her plot and characters seriously. Unfortunately, she makes this difficult.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition