Book Critique: Let Justice Descend (Gardiner & Renner #5)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A political dram with murder thrown in between along with environmental hazards, economic impact and vigilante justice, making this a thriller for sure; although it took a while for me to warm up to the plot and the characters.

Let Justice Descend is the fifth book in the Gardiner & Renner series by Lisa Black first published in October of 2019. The plot is set after the events in the previous book, Suffer the Children.

The stories in the series revolved around Jack Renner and Maggie Gardiner working for the Cleveland Police Department - Renner a Homicide Detective & Gardiner a Forensic Investigator. They were first introduced in the book That Darkness in 2016. They investigate various kinds of homicide cases together; while finding themselves from within. The plots are set in Cleveland, Ohio but they travel around when the cases need. And Jack is also a killer, a vigilante to make the world a safer place. 

Renner and Gardiner are called to a scene of murder of the U. S. Senator for Ohio, Diane Cragin at her home. Her rival Joey Green, a city development director, and the Democratic Candidate for United States senator from Ohio, becomes the primary suspect. Only the wrench in the case happens to be the large amount of cash they find in Diane's home. Now Renner and Gardiner trail the money back to a pit of conspiracy, blackmail, murder and political chaos.

This is one of those books I bought in the outdoor social distancing library sale that I went to in September. There are several reasons why I get attracted to a book. One reason is the title of a book. This title reminded me of the statement "Justice is served" that paranormal romantic mystery author Christine Feehan uses in her Shadow Series where her protagonists utter those words whenever they mete justice on the bad guys. Hence the book and thus my review.

Author Black brings a lot of elements surrounding economy, politics and environment in this plot. We meet economic hit men who would alter the economy of a country by fooling those people in helping them but inadvertently putting them in complete debt of the country that originally sort out to help them, just like how China did with Sri Lanka. Except the same concept now is getting used within several states and cities economy in America, draining them of natural resources and driving them to debt, bad economy and failures.

Black's focus on the huge conspiracy that could happen around environment and its protection such as scams with water filtering systems; disregard to the proper process in disbanding old factories; all that could lead to food and health hazards for people. She uses real life examples in her plot - Flint Michigan water crisis; ongoing fight to save clean water in Fort Peck Indian reservation in Montana - to home in the point.

I read in an article or heard somewhere that pretty much every human being has ingested some part of plastic into their body, though it would be only very very very micro amount. But if we don’t fight and clean the environment humanity, living beings and earth in general will not survive or perhaps evolve into a different species. This book brought several of those to light.

Although I think author Black was supportive of one political party versus other; meaning she put one political party in good light and the other completely in bad light. In reality neither parties are completely good or bad…there are shades of grey in all political parties.

Coming to her protagonists, she uses a very interesting recipe here in the portrayal of Jack Renner. She gives us bits and pieces about him, about what Maggie had seen him doing, and about his past. Having not read any of the previous books, those small bits and pieces didn’t help to know the character completely. In fact it only made me want to read the series from the beginning just to know more about Jack Renner. Smart movie, I say.

Although the ending seemed simple at first, Black ties some of the inconsequential details neatly in the end. Oh boy, what a finish she has given. I was wondering how she would connect her title to the actual act. She doesn’t disappoint us.

Vigilante justice is given a new take in her book. I don’t normally like vigilante justice without consequences. However, what with the world how it is getting so corrupt lately, this perhaps can be accepted. However, unlike the Shadow Series by Christine Feehan where they thoroughly vet out before meting their justice, I don’t see that step in Black's book. Yes there is some research done, but the moral compass isn't there by the side of the researchers or the one who metes justice. 

As for the actual reading of the plot, despite the very many interesting facts, the book went from interesting to boring to intriguing to a sudden spike of suspense. With so much of political jargon and drama; and less of the police procedure seen, the entire book became a political documentary as opposed to a mystery thriller. Perhaps if I had read it as a documentary then I would have appreciated it better. 

It took a while for me to warm up to her characters and the plot. However, by the end it left me intrigued to see where she takes Jack and Maggie's journey and more to see where it began. However for now I have to keep her on my list as I have more books to finish.

A political dram with murder thrown in between along with environmental hazards, economic impact and vigilante justice, making this a thriller for sure. If you like political melodramas with a tinge of mystery and thrill then this is the book to go to. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Senator Diane Cragin's staff & family - Kelly Henessey, chief of staff; Devin, assigned Secret Service; Raymond Sutton, Central Committee Chairman and attorney for RNC party; Collette Minella, niece.

b. Joseph "Joe "Green, the Democratic opponent's staff & family: Tina, a volunteer; Connor Scofield, financially backing StartUp Central; Carl Nero, his bodyguard.

c. Other people: Harold Boudelet, economic hit man; Malik Hybannon; David Carlyle, EPA officer; Bruce Haywood, Lobbyist; Helen Sibley, receptionist.

d. Rick Gardiner is investigating the mysterious deaths of many criminals across the country; all done by Jack as a vigilante killer. Jack and Maggie decide to announce that they are a couple to discourage Rick from investigating Jack.

e. Literature and Media we come across in the plot: George Orwell's book 1984.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Law Enforcement: Thomas Riley, a Homicide Detective and Jack's partner; Rick Gardiner, homicide detective & Maggie's ex-husband, and his partner Will Dembrowski; Patty Wildwood, practicing head of homicide unit.

b. Crime scene Investigators: Denny, Gardiner's boss; Carol; Josh; Amy.

c. Maggie's family & friends: Alex, a sibling (?).

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. The blurb on the book gives Joe Green's name as "Joey Green" but all through the book he is addressed as "Joe Green" in most places, except once on Pg. 84. Pg. 134,  Pg. 197, and others as the book got towards the end, he was addressed more and more as "Joey".

b. On Pg. 31, in the beginning of the second para, Black has her character Kelly take a glass from the cupboard and fill it with water. Then again at the end of the same paragraph she has Kelly refill the glass again. Between the two times there was no instance where she drank from it or threw the water away. 

c. On Pg. 174, Line 3, missing an opening quote before "But I think this…"

d. On Pg. 284, Line 14, shouldn’t it be "…might at least verify…"


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