Monday, March 26, 2018

Book Review: Next of Kin, by James Tucker

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

From downwind the figure crept up on one of the patrols behind the house. With stealth and grace he swung the hatchet at the guard’s neck. No sound as the man fell. The Rottweiler turned in surprise and bewilderment. He stepped on the leash and with his fist hit the dog in the head, knocking it out. It lay there, panting softly.

He ran clockwise, around to the front of the house, gaining speed. Ahead were the second guard and Rottweiler turning the far corner of the house, where they’d pass by the garage and then move along the darkly lit rear. Faster. Faster. He was a blur of black in the black night, his face indistinct under a black mask.

He felt the anticipation of what would come. Of the young boy’s death, which couldn’t be helped. Tonight was simply another piece of the plan set in motion at Camp Kateri. For what the family had done. The figure inhaled the crisp night air. He was fully alive, agile, a powerful athlete. He charged toward the garage.

Next of Kin jumped right into the action, and most of the suspense surrounded a very clever 10-year-old boy. While I’ve got a 10-year-old of my own, I don’t know if she’d have thought of some of the things he did that saved his life. More than once I thought he was caught or killed.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Next of Kin, by James Tucker
A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork—and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?

When two more massacres decimate the Brookses’ ranks, Buddy’s hunt narrows. But his challenges grow as power, money, and secret crimes from the family’s past stand in the way. With Ben more and more at risk, Buddy steps closer to the edge, forcing a relentless killer to become more brazen, brutal, and cunning. Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test…and risk the lives of everyone he loves.

Next of Kin is the first "Detective Buddy Lock Thriller" from James Tucker. The second book is scheduled for release in October 2018. I liked the detective (a former concert pianist turned police detective) and his girlfriend, Mei (a woman brought up with wealth, who now works in an art gallery). Their relationship was interesting to watch, as the opposites of their upbringing, their expectations of the world, and their choice of careers intermingled, while never quite meshing completely. The precocious little boy who survives several murder attempts also manages to remain charming in spite of his defensive thoughts and maneuvers.

What I liked even more than the characters was the plot. While I don’t try too hard, I did not figure out the killer more than a page or two before it was announced. The how and why behind all the drama was exciting and well played. And when I thought the killer was about to be caught, there would be a surprise of more killings indicating we’d need a new suspect. I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author, and with these characters.

Overall, I’d give Next of Kin 3.5 out of 5 stars, and I bet that star rating will go up with more books in the series, as I grow to know and like Buddy and Mei more.

Becki Bayley is a mom with a 10-year-old and 6-year-old who are realistically smart, but have not had a battle of wits with any killers. She enjoys the safety of blogging in and around SE Michigan at


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