3 out of 4 stars
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Jake Miller is a former Navy Seal now working with the Cape May County Police Department as a detective. On his way to witness in a court case for the prosecution of a drug gang, his house explodes and burns down, killing his wife, Mary. Although it's staged to look like an accident, forensics say the traces of C4 found in the dishwasher suggest a bomb explosion. A homicide investigation is set in motion, and no matter how much they try to keep Jake away from the investigation, he is hellbent on finding the perpetrator himself. What follows is a rollercoaster ride of mystery and adventure that is worth reading.
Jake Miller by Billy Ray Williams is an investigative/police procedural novel. The bulk of the plot is centered around the police department and drug-related crimes. The first thing that caught my attention was the author's writing. It was exquisite, to say the least; his writing style was easy to understand, and the story's pace was fluid.
The main character, Detective Jake Miller, was not without his flaws. Now, of course, a character that is perfect is also unrealistic. However, I felt that Jake having more maturity and heroism would have helped the story a lot more. It made me feel like the author didn't put sufficient effort into developing Miller's character. He was supposed to be the hero of the story, but there was almost no depth to him; it felt like he was just another supporting character.
I was also disappointed about Jake Miller's brief affair with Sonny's wife, Eleanor. Considering that Sonny was his best friend and close partner who had helped him and been there for him when his wife died, this was an unnecessary stab to the heart. I failed to see how that element of the plot was supposed to help the story. I understand that the author was probably trying to paint Jake as a man with flaws, but the affair, in my opinion, was one flaw too many. Instead of making Jake seem more human by showing his flaws, the affair ended up villainizing him to an extent. Also, for a man who had just lost his wife, Jake didn't seem so distraught over it. In the days that followed the tragedy, the show of emotion over his loss felt a little superficial. I expected his grief to be his driving force and motivation to find the perpetrators and ensure justice, but it didn't seem that way to me. This was the biggest letdown for me in this book.
Even though I didn't appreciate Jake's character, it wasn't enough to discredit the entire book. While Miller's character could have been better, the author made up for this with the supporting characters. Two good examples were Fatso and Wilt. Fatso died in a ghastly motor accident while chasing after a member of the ruthless motorcycle gang, The Cobras. The same accident left Wilt badly injured with a huge possibility of never walking again. Sonny, his partner, and other officers, like Kari, were wonderful examples of loyalty and true friendship. I enjoyed their roles very much.
I didn't appreciate the amount of profanity in the book. I felt that this story could have done without it and still maintained its intrigue. The level of profanity only makes this book unfit for minors and more sensitive readers. However, it's possible the author was targeting a more mature audience, which makes my perception subjective at best.
In all, I still enjoyed reading Jake Miller. While Jake's character was a bit of a letdown, and the profanity level was over the top, the plot was delightfully engaging and unpredictable. In most good investigative novels, the traitors/villains remain a mystery until the very end, and I was glad that Billy Ray Williams followed the same template in this book. The quality of the plot was the best aspect of this book for me.
Sadly, I encountered enough avoidable grammar issues in this book to believe that it wasn't professionally edited. I rate Jake Miller 3 out of 4 stars. My reasons for taking away one star are Jake's character and the lack of professional editing. I didn't consider the issue of profanity because there's a robust segment of readers that would love it. Also, I couldn't give the book a lesser rating because of the author's writing style, the quality of the plot, and the supporting characters. I recommend this book to readers who appreciate investigative stories.
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