Jason Swike wakes up in a old horse corral, chained, groggy, hungry, and only given water to drink. What he doesn't realize in the beginning is that his water is drugged and every sip puts him in and out of consciousness. As time passes by slowly, he wonders when death will arrive. As a crime writer, he knows these situations never work out in the victim's favor. Why should there be any hope? He and his wife, Sophie, separated after a car wreck left her in a wheelchair. His six-year old son, Max, has down-syndrome and has been diagnosed with a rare blood disease. His writing career was in the toilet.
Then, he heard the whistle. It sounded like 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game". He knew that MO.
The media's latest darling. He paints the faces of his victims and then proceeds to break their bones with, you guessed it, a bat. Three strikes, your out. Killers just love to live up to their namesake.
What Jason doesn't expect to hear is a voice from the next corral over. His name is Ian Cobb and he has a plan. When Crackerjack comes for him, he is going to fight back. Jason never expects the fight to come into his stall and a struggle ensues. With Cobb's help, Crackerjack is killed and the men look down at the face of the man who almost ended their lives.
The next thing you know, the men are praised as heroes. Jason gets book and movie deals, his estranged wife and son are back in the picture, and life seems to be great again. But there is still something that tugs at his mind and he can't shake.
The terror that began in the stable is only the beginning. What happens next will put Jason's family in the crosshairs and Jason in the headlights of a hard edged detective.
This is my first foray with Hankins and certainly won't be my last. His writing is fast-paced and thrilling; edge of your seat type stuff. Every time you think you got it all figured out, he twisted it into something new. He does a great job with characterization but I did feel like some of them were unbelievably gullible or too easily manipulated while others were more fleshed out. I also think the 'Crackerjack' moniker was a little childish, but it did make sense with the killer's MO.
All in all, if you want a psychological summer thriller, look no further.