BookHound
Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

A VISIBLE DARKNESS by Jonathon King

Jonathon King is a newspaper reporter with an award-winning background. He knows people and he knows how to put words together. I first discovered him and his Max Freeman novels a few years ago when the initial paperback in the series hit the shelves. I picked up the second one and didn’t get back to it, which I regret but have since atoned for. Freeman would understand, because he’s still working on atonement of sorts for a lot of how his life has gone.

That sense of searching for answers when he doesn’t really know all the questions is one of the things that draws me to the character of Max Freeman, and I suspect its one of the chief reasons King explores Max’s world in additional novels.

I like the two sides of Florida that King writes about, and I enjoy the way he juxtaposes them against each other. Freeman is our eyes, and we see the world the way he sees it. The gentle way he describes nature and becomes part of it is awesome, and it’s sharp enough that I feel like I’m right there with him on the water and in his small house.

On the other hand, Freeman is equally at home on the city streets. I’m more familiar with the civilized areas, but King still has a knack for taking you into dark places and dark lives. At times you can see the feature writing skills instead of the novelists, but the subject matter is woven so skillfully that you can’t help but be drawn in.

Max gets called into this mystery by the deaths of some local elderly black people that were all insured through the same company. They all held long-term insurance plans worth quite a bit of money, but evidently someone doesn’t think they should live any longer than they have to. The plot is fairly simple, and the villains are pretty much in plain sight the whole time, but King throws a curveball into the mix with his hitman. Several chapters of the book are devoted to the hired murderer and watching him go about his business is interesting.

There’s nothing really knew in the unlicensed private eye genre here, or in the Miami crime scene for that matter, but King writes like the veteran he is and keeps it all interesting and moving along. While the prose and the mystery don’t exactly yank you through the pages, it’s a solid read and will keep you in the chair and in Max Freeman’s shoes. Now I’ve gotta find the other books in the series, which is as good a recommendation as you can give any author.

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