A page-turning return of one of Connelly’s fan-favourite characters.
Fair Warning is the 34th novel from critically acclaimed writer, Michael Connelly, and features the return of reporter Jack McEvoy, following his inaugural appearance in 1996’s The Poet and 2009’s The Scarecrow. He’s also appeared with Connelly’s other popular characters, Harry Bosch (A Darkness More Than Night) and Mickey Haller (The Brass Verdict).
Despite his limited catalogue, McEvoy is one of Connelly’s most talked about characters. For Connelly, Jack feels too autobiographical – which has limited his appearances. So, it is doubly pleasurable to not only have a fresh Connelly novel, but one featuring the hard-nosed reporter, as well.
As Fair Warningopens, McEvoy now works as a consumer investigative journalist for an internet-based piece also called FairWarning. Jack is living a low-key life off the back of royalties from his book about The Poet and away from his turbulent past, details of which are detailed in previous Connelly novels and referenced frequently throughout.
He is confronted one morning by two detectives – played out in atypical good cop/bad cop manner – who advise him that he is the prime suspect in the murder of a woman with whom he had a one-night stand around a year earlier. The motivating factor for their suspicion is her belief she was being cyberstalked. Who else but a journalist could possibly be responsible for such behaviour? In line with their suspicions, Jack’s DNA is taken for processing.
With the intrusion of a swab, so begins Jack’s investigation into the world of DNA processing. both within the legal/justice system and outside in the privately-owned world of genetic exploration and DNA-testing labs. It is a world cloaked from scrutiny by internal assessment and self-monitoring, and the financial gains of selling on the samples to other researchers.
Jack is soon learning much more than he ever expected about the system and processes, and the intimate secrets that can be unlocked from strands of DNA – all for as little as $23. Over the course of the next 400 pages, the dirty secrets of DNA are revealed. Ultimately, the twist in the tale, which may feel like a sting for some, brings an exciting conclusion to the latest work.
The novel moves, as with previous recent novels, between the perspectives of different characters: Jack; a DNA tech who calls himself ‘The Hammer’; the protagonist known as ‘The Shrike’; as well as featuring articles about the case (a nod to Connelly’s journalistic career). It also features a familiar face from the past, a touch which Connelly has used to link the worlds of his various characters. The use of real-life elements – FairWarning and its editor, Myron, exist (Connelly is a Board Member), and Jack’s podcast having the same name as Connelly’s – also serve to show the closeness between these characters.
As only the third Jack McEvoy novel in 25 years, let’s hope it’s not too long before we see Jack, again.
Reviewed by Glen Christie
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: May 2020