Book #3 in the Jack Ryder Series, ‘The House that Jack Built’ brings the Cocoa Beach detective back for a new case & more family drama. In pure Willow Rose fashion, we have three simultaneous plots.
Jack’s life hasn’t calmed a bit since we left him in Book 2. His Country Music Star girlfriend, Shannon, is pregnant & she decides to build a house for their large family. Hanging over her head is a murder investigation in which Nashville police think she is responsible for the death of her former partner. Framed by her ex-husband, the truth died with him. Balancing their 4 children & one on the way is becoming too much for her, but Jack can only be home so much.
Meanwhile, a man who’d been convicted of the kidnapping & murder of a young boy is being released from prison due to a witness recanting his testimony. Vernon had always proclaimed his innocence & his conviction was sketchy to say the least. But, soon after his conviction is overturned, another boy comes up missing in exactly the same manner as the first. Is Vernon really guilty of both crimes? Two sets of distraught parents want to know who stole their kids in the middle of the night & they want them home. Jack needs to figure out where Vernon fits in & what’s happened to the boys. Making a comeback appearance are our villains from Book 2 who will quickly throw a monkey wrench in Jack’s caseload.
Plot #3 is a series of flashbacks. Cuba is the scene & the infamous 1980 Mariel Boatlift provides the basis. We follow one Cuban family who loses everything due to the reign of Castro. Three brothers fight their way to America but must return to retrieve their family. A series of unfortunate events ensues during the Boatlift. Readers will need full use of their thinking caps to pull all three plots together.
Scary though it may be, most of this book is based on actual events. Fortunately, Willow has tamed down her violent descriptions especially pertaining to the children. At times, she gets a bit overboard in her crime scenes. This one is quite tame compared to some from the Emma Frost series. No one denies how much Cubans have endured over the decades of Communism. Events depicted in this novel could very well have happened.
Jack does well as the lead as usual. He has a long way to go in character development to gain the popularity of Rebekka & Emma from Willow’s two popular series. Shannon still strikes me as iffy & I haven’t decided I like her yet. Willow does a good job developing the villains from this novel & carrying over from Book 2. If you haven’t read the first two in the series, they’re all written to stand alone & it takes little time to catch on. Still not as good as the first book, but not a bad read, I give it 4 stars.