Tag Archives: Jonathon King

Pregnant judge the tool of kidnappers in top-notch thriller

Don’t Lose Her, by Jonathon King. Open Road. 262 pages. Trade paperback $14.99.

Mr. King’s Max Freeman Mystery series is one of my favorites. A well-developed lead character, fascinating plot ideas, authoritative details on police work and the court system, and an authentic representation of two Floridas: the Palm Beach area and the Everglades. Max’s seventh outing met my high expectations, along the way providing deep insights into stressed characters dealing with critical situations.  Don'tLoseHer

Diane Manchester, forty-three, is a U. S. district judge is in charge of the extradition hearing of a big time criminal, a Colombian drug lord named Juan Manuel Escalante. As a weary Diane, eight months pregnant, announces a break for lunch, Escalante speaks out to her. His seemingly sarcastic concern for her condition could easily be taken as a threat.

Soon after she leaves the courthouse, Diane is abducted.

Judge Manchester is he wife of Billy Manchester, super-lawyer and highly successful financial guru. Billy’s go-to guy for investigations is Max Freeman, who is also Billy’s best friend. Billy’s clout allows him access to all kinds of information sources, and he quickly takes advantage of his connections to begin the hunt for Diane’s captors and to seek out their possible motives.  The usual motive, a fat ransom, does not seem to be in play.

Mr. King builds his narrative through several points of view. Max’s viewpoint is paramount; readers will gratefully follow him as he follows and interprets the accumulating clues.

Many chapters explore the thoughts and emotions of Diane as she processes her situation and worries about the outcome of her pregnancy. She is treated rather roughly by those who have taken her. Her hands are bound behind her, and her head is covered so that she cannot see. Her breathing is somewhat restricted.


For a long time, no one speaks to her. The space in which is confined is a place of silence. Diane forces herself to be alert to motion, to environment, to the needs of her unborn child. She works hard to stay as calm as possible. A woman who is used to controlling her destiny, she strives to balance realism and hope in a situation she cannot understand.

The author is in full command of this character, electrifying readers who are brought so close to what Diane is going through.

The team that is holding Diane is headed by a huge Native American, a man of enormous strength and no compassion. He is known as Geronimo, and his underlings live in fear of him. . . .

To read this review in full, as it appears in the June 17, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the June 18 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gordo/Port Charlotte and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Don’t Lose Her


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Jonathon King’s “Max Freeman” series continues to excel

Midnight Guardians, by Jonathon King. Open Road. E-book. $9.99.

This sixth and newest novel in Jonathon King’s “Max Freeman” series picks up in the wake of Max’s girlfriend’s crippling injury. Broward County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sherry Richards’ loss of a leg is something about which Max can’t help but feel responsible (see Acts of Nature in which the calamity occurs), and he is doing all he can to redeem himself and assist in the psychological healing that Sherry needs. Not that she admits to any needs. An independent and courageous woman, she is struggling to get on with her life, which means mainly her job. Stubbornly refusing assistance as much as she possibly can, Sherry makes it difficult for Max to know how to do and say the right things to nourish their relationship. 

She has taken on the assignment of counseling Marty Booker, a fellow officer who just lost both legs in what seemed to be a routine traffic stop. However, it turns out the Booker might have been set up – possibly for even more than the double-amputation.

Meanwhile, Max’s old Philadelphia friend and principal employer, well-healed attorney Billy Manchester, has something for Max to investigate. Billy’s client, Luz Carmen, is a young woman who works for a medical equipment supplier that she suspects is involved in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. She feels certain that her younger brother, Andres, has been drawn into the gang that is making the false medical claims. She wants to save Andres, who is essentially a delivery boy, while bringing the masterminds to justice. Though Luz had insisted on seeking a safe place to discuss this matter, she and Max barely escape being victims of a drive-by shooting. Was it just a prank? Or was someone following Luz?

Billy insists that Max keep an eye on her.

Jonathon King

Through the device of having several chapters explore the thoughts of Marty Booker, Mr. King offers another center of interest and also a series of steps to the realization that rogue policemen are in on dealing and abusing illegal drugs. A shadowy fellow nick-named the Brown Man, with whom Max has had past encounters, is found to be straddling the criminal world, moving from the drug trade to  the more white collar fraud enterprise. Marty had been trying to separate himself from the steroid-using police gang before his “accident.”

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the December 22-28, 2010 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and in the December 23-29 issue of the Naples edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Jonathon King pdf

[only the Naples edition carries the additional material on e-book publication]

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BOOK BEAT 51 – Jonathon King

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   August 1-7, 2007

by Philip K. Jason

Jonathon King has become, in a very short time, one of the premier crime novelists among the exceptionally talented group writing in and about Florida. His terrain includes the densely populated counties of South Florida and the sparsely populated, mysterious Everglades. King has just brought out his fifth “Max Freeman” novel, after a brief escape from Max with the recent and masterful “Eye of Vengeance.” Max’s return in “Acts of Nature” brings the protagonist fully into the ferocity of Florida’s most powerful natural menace – the hurricane. Or is that menace human nature? The title lets us take our pick.

Unlike most crime fiction, “Acts of Nature” does not attach the hero to a particular investigation. But as in some of the best of the genre, trouble finds him anyway.

The plot involves a triangulation of destinies, and the narrative technique finds King alternating three story lines until they inevitably intersect and explode.

The first story line involves a shared vacation between private investigator Max Freeman and his girlfriend, Sherry Richards, who is a detective with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Desiring an uninterrupted escape, Sherry leaves no contact information as the two decide to nurture a relationship that has engaged King’s readers through several books. After some time at Max’s Everglades cabin, the two seek out a remote fishing camp to continue their cautious embrace of the area’s allure. They lose contact with the fact that a tropical storm has turned into a serious hurricane speedily bearing down on the Glades.

The second story has to do with a pair of security operatives for an oil company. These men, Harmon and Shields, are hired guns performing the kind of deniable dirty tricks that corporate success requires in the unstable world of international politics. When we first meet them, they are liberating a computerized analysis device from a pump room in Venezuela.

Harmon is an especially credible and memorable character, whose skills, background, personal traits, and home life King sketches with vividness and efficiency. 

The third track concerns three low-lifes from the Ten Thousand Islands area. The leader is an ex-con, Buck, who runs salvage operations (burglaries) as mentor to two teenagers who do the heavy lifting. It’s a pretty slick operation, looting empty homes in gated communities across South Florida and fencing the goods. When the hurricane strikes, Buck is convinced that there will be easy pickings at the damaged fishing retreats in the Everglades. He assumes that the owners will first attend to their primary homes before checking on the condition of these remote properties.

King nails the lingo of the teenagers and builds a compelling portrait of their milieu, their relationship to one another, and their interaction with the thirtyish Buck. Theirs is a sad story, but it is related with zest and with the kind of telling details that pull the reader in.

Through short, fast-paced chapters, King draws in the net that holds his three stories until they become one. The complications include a serious injury to Sherry Richards, an injury that becomes life-threatening due to the pair’s isolation and the wreckage created by the hurricane. As King fashions their responses to this predicament, he artfully deepens the characterizations of both Sherry and Max while ratcheting up the suspense.

“Acts of Nature,” published by Dutton, is a not only a sharp-edged thriller, but an album of American types and of America’s moral malaise.

King’s new readers will want to go back to the beginning of the Max Freeman series – the award-winning “The Blue Edge of Midnight” – and follow the ongoing Freeman saga. King’s committed followers will enjoy this new Freeman adventure, but are likely to hope that the walk-on part assigned to Palm Beach lawyer Billy Manchester, Max’s main source of employment and frequent benefactor, is enlarged in the next outing. And all followers of Florida crime fiction will chuckle at the affectionate passing reference to Jim Born, who really is a special agent for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as well as a stalwart member of the Florida crime fiction tribe.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club.

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