No surprise that I’m hooked on the Jack Stratton detective series. Written by Christopher Greyson, the Jack Stratton thrillers start with “And Then She Was GONE,” introducing a 17-year-old Stratton, former foster kid who wants to be a cop. He’s a headstrong hero with a core of angry pain. He was saved by “Aunt” Haddie, a precious woman of faith who took many “babies” and turned their lives around with love and a firm hand. Like the rest of the Stratton books, “And Then She Was GONE” has intriguing characters, a fascinating plot, humor, some romance, and uncompromising values.
Unlike most thrillers, this series also features racial issues, something close to my heart. Jack is a white kid raised in a black foster home, loved by “brothers and sisters” who share unbreakable bonds. Having raised a black child, I can relate to the typical reactions of others: “You are family?? You love one another??” Duh. The author treats this issue respectfully and humorously. When Stacy Shaw goes missing, Aunt Haddie asks Jack to help; she is confident that her friend’s son has been falsely accused. Jack smiles and deliberately reverses “Driving Miss Daisy,” chauffeuring Aunt Haddie and the accused son’s mother.
In his headstrong, never-mind-the-consequences style, Jack ends up being a suspect in Stacy’s murder, alienating the local police force with his brash but sincere effort to solve the mystery. With his “brother’s” help, and violating police orders, he also manages to uncover the truth about Stacy’s death. Throughout, the author humanises the homeless, the lost veterans, the abused, and the marginalized.
Christopher Greyson continues this series with “Girl Jacked,” featuring an older Jack Stratton suffering from PTSD, who has lost his brother in Iraq, joined the police force, and continues to tank his career with a passionate effort to find his foster sister, Michelle. “Girl Jacked” also features Replacement, another foster sister with a ‘tude. Spunky, indomitable, and struggling with her own ghosts from the past, Replacement forges a cool relationship with Jack. No spoilers here!
Greyson continues his Jack-roll with Jack Knifed, Jacks are Wild, Jack and the Giant Killer, and Data Jack. I’d even take Jack-in-the-Box if Greyson would keep going!
Finally, I love that Greyson doesn’t flinch as his characters tackle complex social and personal issues of racism, faith, and despair. Jack’s impulsive search for justice, combined with intolerance for officious fellow officers, eventually wrecks his career. So far. In the meantime, Jack maintains his integrity while solving a number of fascinating and heartbreaking murders. I haven’t gotten to the last book (keep writing, Christopher!), but I’m already sad that the end is in sight. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!