Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Book Report: Shakedown

Title: Shakedown

Author: Joel Goldman

Kansas City FBI Agent Jack Davis cuts corners and calls in favors to piece together seemingly unrelated clues in a mass murder while battling a debilitating nerve condition that has cost him his job.

My thoughts:
This blog has benefited me in a number of ways. It has allowed me to meet some really fun and talented people. It has given me a creative outlet (though, admittedly, the "creative" bit is debatable). But the real reason I started it is to try to get free stuff.

My first score on this point was a review copy of the That Thing You Do director's cut.

And most recently when I received an invitation to review Shakedown by local author and trial lawyer Joel Goldman I jumped at the opportunity. Who am I to turn down a free review copy of the book?

Shakedown is Goldman's fifth book and takes place in various neighborhoods throughout the greater Kansas City area. Genre-wise, I guess you would call it a crime/suspense thriller, which isn't really what I usually go for. Still I was excited to dive in and give it an honest try.

I was a little concerned in the first couple of chapters where the author used, in my opinion clumsily, a written street vernacular for the inner dialogs of some minor characters. This was soon forgiven though, as I came to appreciate the pace of action in the story.

I also appreciated Goldman's use of the Kansas City area as a character device in the novel. He does an excellent job of describing the different neighborhoods, from the tough and gritty Quindaro, Strawberry Hill and the rail yards in Argentine to the upscale Country Club Plaza shopping district and the suburbs of Johnson County.

Goldman also peppers in several literary Easter Eggs for his Kansas City readers. The main character, for example, uses the alias of "Detective Funkhouser" in some scenes, an obvious reference to the KCMO mayor.

I also was interested in the way Goldman incorporated aspects of another book I recently read, Malcom Gladwell's Blink. One of the main characters is an expert in the Facial Action Coding System (which Gladwell discusses in detail in his book) and uses this skill to help solve the murder. But it ends up costing her.

The writing is solid and the narrative tight enough to keep me turning the pages. I thought the plot was a bit contrived at times, and several sequences were easily predicted.

But I’d still give it a solid recommendation for your summer reading list, especially for those of you in Kansas City. Add it to your beach bag or take it on that road trip. It’s a good read.

Rating: Recommended summer/beach reading

Note: Read more 3AM Book Reviews.

tagged: , , , , , , ,


  1. Yeah, I got an invite to check this book out. I ignored the email. Why? Because reading is for educated sissies.

  2. I got the invite too, and I don't even speak English. I decided to spare the author from my review. I'd like to review a 60-inch HDTV,please.

  3. That sounds like a cool book. I'll have to check it out. I'm always looking for good stuff to read.


Your turn to riff...