BOOK OF THE DAY
By Jason Starr
Publication Date: November 2018
Review by G. Robert Frazier
Jack Harper isn’t the brightest protagonist you’ll meet in a crime novel this year. In fact, he makes a lot of bone-headed decisions that serve only to get him into deeper and deeper trouble — like being suspected of murder, for instance. Yet for all of that, readers of Fugitive Red, the new novel from Jason Starr, will want to stick with his story just to see if he gets what he deserves or if he can somehow wriggle way out of the fix he’s in.
Jack, you see, seemingly has it all: a great job as a high-end real estate salesman, an eight-year-old son he’d die for, and a beautiful wife, Maria. But beneath it all, Jack’s not as happy as he should be. He’s had bouts of alcoholism. He had to give up his one true passion, music. His downtown Manhattan apartment is small and claustrophobic, made all the colder by a widening rift with Maria.
Seeking something, anything, that can restore his previous happiness, Jack stupidly decides instead of trying to patch things up with Maria he’ll seek solace through a digital online dating site and a fantasy relationship with a woman known only as the titular Fugitive Red. At first, his “fling” amounts to nothing more than flirting. But the more he becomes fixated on Red, the more his desire for a real relationship grows. Red entices him further when she suggests a real-life, clandestine rendezvous, a proposal Jack readily accepts.
But when Jack gets to the arranged meeting spot, he’s shocked to discover the object of his affections has been brutally murdered. Panicked, he runs from the scene, only to learn he’s left a glaringly obvious digital footprint behind for the police. News of his illicit online affair and suspect status in the eyes of the police brings his real world crashing in on him as he is quickly fired and just as quickly kicked out of his apartment by Maria.
Desperate, Jack stumbles about in an effort to clear his name despite the best advice of his public defender and the dogged pursuit of the detective on the case. Starr, who has written fourteen previous crime thrillers as well as stories for Marvel and DC Comics, keeps the action quick and the twists plentiful in this suspenseful read.