Without Warning - David Rosenfelt

This is a stand alone from the author of the popular Andy Carpenter series. It's set in the small town of Wilton, Maine where residents are assessing the damage after enduring the wrath of hurricane Nicholas. Though most hatches were appropriately battened, there is substantial flooding due to a broken dam.

Police Chief Jake Robbins has made his rounds while publisher Katie Sandford covered all the angles in The Wilton Journal. These two have an interesting history. After dating in high school they went their separate ways. Jake eventually married Jenny & Katie settled down with Roger who also worked at the paper. Then Jenny & Roger had an affair. Then Roger killed Jenny & went to prison where he was murdered. Whew...

Got all that? Several years have passed and while Jake & Katie don't see each other much they have maintained a neutral friendship.

One area of severe flooding happens to be where the city has buried its' time capsules containing predictions & artefacts, every 50 years. The last one went in 5 years ago & Katie decides to check it for damage. It's intact but they find more than they expected. Enter Jake & a forensic crew. 

After opening the capsule, they discover an extra set of predictions. One foretells Jenny's death. Did the wrong man go to prison? And what about the other deaths cryptically alluded to in the pages? 

The second question is answered pretty quick when a local man dies soon after the discovery. And another. It's enough to scare the crap out of the good people of Wilton & attract the attention of the FBI. Jake welcomes their assistance, especially when he alone figures out what the victims have in common. 

I'll leave it at that as you should have a few surprises in store. It's a fast paced read full of suspense, clever plotting, murder, revenge & redemption. The twisted culprit is revealed about 3/4 of the way through but this doesn't diminish the tension as Jake races toward the final showdown. 

I thought the premise was good & certainly the history between the 2 MC's made for an original relationship. I just found many of the characters oddly bland or two-dimensional. Most are defined by their roles (cop, mayor, investigative reporter, etc.) & fairly stereotypical. It's a challenge to really connect with any of them & become as engrossed as you should be in a book of this genre. The dialogue has an overall serious tone & seems restrained in places. Believe me, my response to some of these events would have been much louder & more colourful.

I've read & enjoyed all the Carpenter books, mostly due to their sharp, witty narrative & laugh out loud dialogue. It has to be frustrating for an author known for a particular series to branch out & try something new. Fans like me might open it with preconceived ideas of what they'll find inside & that's not their fault. It's similar to a typecast comedic actor stretching out into a dramatic role. 

This is a solid thriller with likeable characters but if you pick it up based on previous books by Rosenfelt, be prepared for a more somber read.