Unpunished (Gardiner and Renner: Book 2) by Lisa Black

Title: Unpunished

Author: Lisa Black

Publisher: Kensington Books

Date of publication: January 31st, 2017

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, General Fiction

Number of pages: 321

POV: 3rd person

Series: Gardiner and Renner

That Darkness – Book 1

Unpunished – Book 2

Can be read out-of-order from series: No

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living, form an uneasy partnership to solve a series of murders in this powerful new thriller by the bestselling author of That Darkness.

It begins with the kind of bizarre death that makes headlines–literally. A copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the grinding wheels of the newspaper assembly line, a wide strap wrapped around his throat. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner has her suspicions about this apparent suicide inside the tsunami of tensions that is the news industry today–and when the evidence suggests murder, Maggie has no choice but to place her trust in the one person she doesn’t trust at all . . .

Jack Renner is a killer with a conscience, a vigilante with his own code of honor. In the past, Jack has used his skills and connections as a homicide detective to take the law into his own hands, all in the name of justice. He has only one problem: Maggie knows his secret. She insists he enforces the law, not subvert it. But when more newspaper employees are slain, Jack may be the only person who can help Maggie unmask the killer– even if Jack is still checking names off his own private murder list.

My review:

I really wish I had read That Darkness before I read Unpunished because I had so many questions about Maggie and Jack that couldn’t be answered in this book. I got frustrated because there were references to what happened to the first book and I had no clue what the characters were talking about.

But, besides my frustrations, I really enjoyed this story. I enjoyed it because it was a true vigilante/police novel. The last vigilante story that I read quickly turned into softcore book porn and the vigilante part was lost between the main characters bumping uglies. So, I was very pleased when this book didn’t even go near there.

I did like Maggie. She was so relatable on so many levels and she had a great relationship with her coworkers. She was a bit apprehensive when she found out that she was working with Jack on a case, but who wouldn’t be. I mean, she knows about his secret. She wasn’t unaffected by what happened to her (read the book to find out what) and she is required to see the police psychologist.

Now, Jack, on the other hand…..I wasn’t sure what to think of him. I wish I knew why he started vigilante killing (I am sure it was explained in the first book) because it would have explained a lot. I do know that I did start to see him soften towards Maggie, towards the end.

The newspaper storyline was pretty solid and moved rather quickly after the first victim was killed. I did have the killer pegged towards the middle book but doubted myself, took him off my list and added another person. All because of a red herring. Blah. I do want to say that I learned more about print newspapers and their equipment then I ever wanted to know.

The other storyline of Jack being a vigilante killer was barely touched upon. I do wish that it was included more in the book but I have a feeling it will be featured more in the next book. The reason I feel that way is because of certain events that happened towards the back of the book.

The end of the book was pretty gruesome and, to be honest, drug out a bit. I was a little surprised at who the killer was (see above). I will say that Maggie got the short end of the stick, again and that Jack seemed like he was softening up towards her.

How many stars will I give Unpunished: 4

Why: While I really liked the book, I do wish I had read book 1 before reading this one. Other than that, the book was great. The characters were engaging, the mystery was pretty good (had me going for a little while) and the thriller parts of the book were very well written. I do wish that more attention was paid towards Jack and him being a vigilante but at the same time, I do think that it would have taken away from the main storyline (the killings of newspaper employees).

Will I reread: Yes but only after reading book 1.

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Violence and language

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

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