Hit the Road, Jack: Willow Rose

Willow Rose debuts a new series, a new lead character, & a new setting all in one. Jack Ryder is the newest hero put to paper by Willow & he’s an American, too. Cocoa Beach, Florida is where he calls home & this dashing detective does it all as a single dad/detective/surfer. Raising three kids alone, he relies on his parents to fill in when he’s working so the kids spend a great deal of time at their grandparents’ beachfront motel. Having transferred to Cocoa Beach from busy Miami, he enjoys a slower pace in his life & the kids’. But, tranquility doesn’t last long in any of Willow’s stories. Soon Jack finds himself investigating murders once again.
With a new series comes new villains. This time we have ‘The Snakecharmer’. Accompanied by his two slithering snake friends, The Snakecharmer is set to wreak havoc on Cocoa Beach. Jack’s on the case when a report comes in saying a young boy believes his parents have been murdered. Afraid to move, the poor little guy figured it was bad news when his dog brought his mother’s finger to him, no longer attached to his mother. Being that the boy is a classmate of Jack’s twins, he feels a personal dedication to finding out what happened.
Clues are few & the boy’s father had been drugged heavily to sleep through the murder. Jack had better move quickly as the Snakecharmer has an agenda. To further complicate matters, famous country singer, Shannon King, rolls into town, fleeing her abusive husband. Shannon has brought her daughter with her & seeks refuge at the motel run by Jack’s parents. She’s beautiful, talented, & Jack is soon drawn to her. Romance will have to stay on the back-burner until the investigation is complete. But, now Jack must worry about Shannon’s safety as well as the case.

Being the full-time dad & full-time detective are hard enough, but Jack’s jobs won’t get any easier any time soon. The Snakecharmer is unlike anything Cocoa Beach has ever seen.

Ryder is certainly far different from other Willow Rose characters. I was surprised that she moved her story to the US. Usually she sticks close to Denmark. Regardless, she did a fine job of switching scenery. Also, I’ve known her to stick with female leads. Jack can be a little too nice & a little too accommodating to those around him. He’s a fabulous detective who doesn’t take shortcuts & readers will find him endearing during family interactions.

Our villani is well done & readers will go back & forth for a while about his identity. Diabolical yet not too over the top, The Snakecharmer is when of Willow’s better creations. Hopefully, Jack Ryder will become a compliment to his female predecessors as the series progresses. A great debut, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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