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The Night Stalker    by James Swain Amazon.com order for
Night Stalker
by James Swain
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

With The Night Stalker, the second of his Jack Carpenter series after Midnight Rambler, James Swain has an absolute, without a doubt winner. Be forewarned. Don't read the first page unless you have enough time to take in this action packed novel from beginning to end. It is that hard to put down.

Carpenter has been called in to find the abducted grandson of Abb Grimes, a convict on death row. An ex-policeman, Carpenter now devotes his working time to locating missing children. While this takes a heavy toll on his emotions, the high from snatching a child from a pedophile is worth it to him.

Grimes was convicted of being a serial murderer crimes of which he has no recollection. Carpenter gets pulled into the case. His execution of methods used to recover missing children is indeed fascinating. What a shame that knowledge is necessary. Strangely, Florida seems 'to attract, and breed, some of the very worst abductors and serial killers'. Hence, Swain's use of that state for Carpenter's workplace.

The police focus on Abb's son for the abduction of the child. Carpenter isn't convinced that the man is responsible and puts his life on the line to prove him innocent, and to retrieve the boy. Action in this suspenseful novel seems never to stop. Carpenter is a heavy hitter who works with the police department in certain instances. They know they need him but resent that fact. And the serial killings continue.

The blockbuster ending will make you glad you stayed up almost all night to read this. You can sleep peacefully now knowing the killer has been unmasked by Carpenter's clever and relentless digging into the case. I definitely look forward to more of Jack Carpenter.

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