My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The phrase “cut to the chase” takes on new meaning in Tami Hoag’s thriller, Kill the Messenger. Jace Damon is an L.A. bike messenger, scrambling to raise his younger brother, Tyler, following the death of their mother. Taken in by the kind owner of a fish market in China Town, the Damon’s live under the radar, trying to avoid attracting the notice of family services. One dismal, rainy evening, Jace picks up a parcel from a sleazy lawyer, to deliver in a derelict neighborhood. Jace is assaulted and barely escapes with his life. The next thing he knows, the lawyer’s dead, and Jace is the obvious and prime suspect.
Author Hoag has concocted a smart, complex tale around Jace and Detective Kev Parker, a good cop who’s had some bad breaks. Desperate to retain custody of Tyler, Jace avoids the police and makes many ill-advised choices and moves. Before long, it dawns on Parker that someone else is the killer, but Jace isn’t making it easy to prove his innocence. A crew of colorful characters, including the messenger service dispatcher, 10 year old Tyler, whose IQ is 168, and Parker’s new partner trainee, inject plenty of humorous moments into this otherwise suspense filled novel. Jace spends plenty of time pedaling for his life, and gradually, the nature of the crime becomes clear. The final chapters are tensely exciting and satisfying.