Publication Date: August 1, 2013
In Girl Jacked (A Jack Stratton Book) by Christopher Greyson, officer Jack Stratton’s foster sister, Michelle, is missing. The police believe she just decided to leave but their foster mother, Aunt Haddie, knows that she wouldn’t take off without letting her know. Haddie knows that Jack is that one person that will find Michelle at all costs. Girl Jacked (A Jack Stratton Book) is the first novel in the Jack Stratton series. Jack works hard to suppress what he thinks he’s done in his life. He’s a pretty boy that cracks jokes and tries to distract himself with dramatic women that he sees as disposable. Deep down he’s a little boy who never got beyond the idea that everything that happens in life is somehow his fault. He’s avoided his foster mother because he believes the death of his foster brother as something he could have (and should have) prevented. When his short-term foster sister, Replacement (Alice), shows up, he hasn’t been home for so long that he doesn’t recognize her as the sister of the man whose death has kept him from everything he loves. Jack Stratton is a character that has potential if only he can get out of his own way. He has a very Virgil Flowers (John Sandford) moment at the start of the book when he’s faced with a situation he’s sure he won’t be able to manage and winds up bluffing and tricking his way into success against great odds.
Greyson’s female characters interested me. They all seemed to be in need of managing by the big, strong Jack. We witness a catfight early on in the piece when Gina (the girlfriend) arrives at the home that she shares with her boyfriend to find a grown woman in the shower. The author focuses on the hysteria seeming to ignore the lack of logic in the subtext. Replacement hasn’t seen Jack in many years and yet she enters his apartment to take a shower while waiting for him? Why is Gina so wrong to be upset that this woman she never knew existed is in her shower and wearing her clothing? Jack sees Gina as so disposable and their relationship already over that he doesn’t even bother to try to explain, which only makes the situation worse for his own pleasure. Throughout Girl Jacked, Replacement (Jack, charmingly, can’t remember her real name), is a shrieking cartoon character. Is it brilliance because you don’t really have to develop a character who spends her life in a reactionary mode or misogyny as this irrational volatile manner is what is typical of the women in the author’s frame of reference? Many of the female characters behave in an aggressively stupid manner. Jack, himself, is stunted emotionally but when called upon to care and in those naval gazing moments, he did have slightly more than puddle like depth.
Girl Jacked could have used a good editor. There were some technical errors but mostly for the more annoying “this happened and then this happened and then this happened” style of writing. You will note that Girl Jacked is the first novel in the Jack Stratton series so perhaps the author is coming into his own with his character but that would have little to do with the style. It’s very much the sort of writing one would hear being read in a creative writing class. Putting your work out there is a difficult thing, as the writer and book reviewer, Gary Henry, would point out and word in reviews is that Greyson’s later books are not as poorly formed and their endings not as far-fetched. I’m not sure this reader cares to read on. To add another perspective to this review, David, my father, did not make it beyond the catfight between Gina and Replacement. He asked me if Replacement was as annoying throughout as she was in the first few pages and then this reader that finishes everything (even the romance novels I sometimes accidentally send to his Kindle), opted to simply delete the book rather than finish.
If you have an afternoon to burn and have absolutely nothing else to read, pick up Girl Jacked. If you’re burning to check out the work of Christopher Greyson, I’d pick up a later book and only go back if Jack Stratton is exactly the sort of character you love reading.
Read an excerpt and buy Girl Jacked by Christopher Greyson on