I'm reading Rick Mofina's Jack Gannon series out of order, having accidentally started with The Panic Zone, the second in line. I've finally gotten around to reading the first one, Vengeance Road (2009), and while Mofina's plots definitely have a very set pattern, they still deliver all the suspense and thrills I need in light reading.
The pattern: a heroic reporter who has something to prove struggles against his own superiors and/or the corrupt police in order to pursue the case of a serial killer and save the young woman, usually a single mother, whom he has in captivity and is going to kill any moment now.
It will perhaps be no surprise to learn that Mofina had a long career as a journalist. I'm guessing he's got a relative who was a single mother, too.
Vengeance Road follows the pattern with all Mofina's usual skill. Jack Gannon, who had one Pulitzer-nominated story a while back but is now suffering under a "what have you done for me lately?" mentality at his newly business-oriented Buffalo newspaper, is drawn into reporting on the discover of a mutilated body in a wooded area and the disappearance of the victim's friend, single mother Jolene Peller, recently off the streets and ready to start a new life in Florida with her young son Cody. With the likely suspect a well-connected local cop, Gannon's superiors and local law enforcement pressure him to back off, but, Gannon being Gannon, he's too stubborn to do so, and pursues the case to the end. Mofina alternates lovingly detailing the nitty-gritty work of reporting with effective emotional button-pushing in depicting Jolene's misery and increasing danger.
While the heroic-reporter/single-mother-in-jeopardy pattern is likely to get tired with overuse, Mofina is good enough to make it easy to forget that one pretty much knows how things are going to come out. That's exactly what one wants in a crime thriller. I recommend Vengeance Road for anyone who likes this genre of light reading.
Check out Rick Mofina's website, and read for yourself: