A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Man Overboard by J.A. Jance- Feature and Review


In New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance’s gripping new thriller, Man Overboard, two tech geniuses face off—one intent on saving lives, the other on ending them.

Cybersecurity expert Roger McGeary finally has his life back on track after years of struggling with depression. But when he falls from the balcony of his suite on an all-expenses-paid cruise, the police quickly dismiss it as “death by misadventure,” a vague phrase leaving much to interpretation.

Unsatisfied, Roger’s tough-as-nails aunt, Julia Miller, is determined to find answers and closure. By contacting Roger’s childhood friend Stuart Ramey to help her solve the mystery of his fate, Julia unwittingly sets up a collision course with a serial killer.

Stuart, his sidekick Cami Lee, and journalist turned amateur sleuth Ali Reynolds put the full resources of cutting edge online security firm High Noon Enterprises into learning the truth about Roger’s death. With Cami on the high seas investigating the ship from which Roger disappeared, Stuart stays tied to his computer, locked in a battle of wits and technology against an unusually twisted adversary. Aided by Frigg, an artificial intelligence companion of his own creation, the killer targets victims who have lost parents to suicide and attempts to drive them to the same tragic end.

When the heartless killer and his cyber accomplice set their sights on Stuart, High Noon must race against time to save him and countless others.



Man Overboard (Ali Reynolds, #12)Man Overboard by J.A. Jance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man Overboard is a 2017 Touchstone Publication.

This twelfth installment in the Ali Reynolds series centers more around Ali’s colleagues, like Stu Ramey, an introverted, socially awkward, computer whiz who gets a chance to show off his skills when he is assigned the job of proving his old schoolmate’s death was murder, not suicide.

In my opinion, the Ali Reynolds series gives Jance more room to explore and experiment with modern topics or even dabble in the possibilities of future advancements, more so than her Beaumont and Brady series do.

I’m a little bit of a tech nerd, so I found most of the, obviously well researched, details in this novel to be very interesting. The subject of suicide, which plays a prominent role in the story, makes me squirm, but it is handled well, without becoming bogged down in over analysis.

I thought I had been keeping up with the series fairly well, but I’m wondering if I’ve missed something somewhere because Ali’s husband was just flat out missing in this chapter. Ali, herself, was barely present, but I did enjoy the stand out development of Stu.

This case is personal for Stu, which gives him a softer tone, on occasion, proving he's not always such a cold fish. The great technological strides we have taken also raise concerns at times, especially when it comes to the possibility of Artificial Intelligence, which is yet another interesting and though provoking element the author adeptly pursued. Jance's AI plot line may throw a damp blanket over some of the excitement we feel about such advances, by introducing some hair raising possibilities, but despite that cautionary warning, I couldn't help but feel intrigued.

I had a couple of issues, one I’ve mentioned already. Ali played a very small role in the book, and the mystery wasn’t so much of a mystery because we knew from the start who the bad guy was. Sometimes, this tactic works great because the reader knows things the characters do not, which creates a giddy type of suspense that makes me want to help the good guys along.

Unfortunately, I never felt that sense of urgency, and I’m wondering if all those technological details I found so fascinating, may have had an unintentional side effect, hindering the suspenseful build up for the grand finale.

However, despite the lack of intense build up, there is still a taut ‘race against time’ climax, and a few bittersweet moments to deal with along the way, as well.

Overall, this one is slightly offbeat, a little unusual, perhaps, but was still a solid addition to the series. I do hope to see our core players return with more of a starring role the next time around, but wouldn’t mind if Stu gets a large supporting role from time to time, or maybe even get a series of his own someday.





J.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and Edge of Evil, the first in a series featuring Ali Reynolds. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

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