Get ready, because with this throwback review I’m going all the way back to… 2015! I know, I know, it’s not that long ago. But if you buy and read the book I’m about to recommend, you won’t care for two seconds when it was written, trust me!
Just yesterday, mega-author Stephen King tweeted, “few things are better than an engrossing, well-written story that doesn’t try too hard to impress you.” I couldn’t agree with King more, at least about that, as one of my biggest turnoffs as a reader is a book that tries too hard.
Last year, Janey Mack released her first novel, Time’s Up. If ever there was a book that epitomizes King’s tweet, it’s Mack’s. Time’s Up is a brilliant mystery–but as good as the plot is, the real strength is Mack’s writing style and ability. She oozes talent on every page, writing effortlessly with flair and an abundance of quick wit.
Time’s Up introduces Maisie McGrane, a twenty-four-year-old knockout who comes from a big Irish family of police officers. Maisie’s dad and three of her older brothers are all cops in Chicago, and her other two brothers followed their mother’s footsteps and became lawyers. They’re a close family, still getting together for dinner on Friday nights to catch up and spend time with one another.
Maisie’s dream was to join the force alongside her dad and brothers, and she worked hard to make that dream a reality. She outdid everyone–including the guys–in her Police Academy class. She received a 98% on the written exam, scored “expert” on the shooting range, and placed first in the PT test. She was destined to be named the top cadet, just like her three brothers before her… and then she failed the psych exam and was expelled from the academy.
Part of the reason Maisie failed her psych exam was due to her “pathological need to be liked.” She’s not convinced she actually has a pathological need to be liked, and neither am I –though I will say that I freakin’ adore her and loved her from the very first page!
Disgraced, embarrassed, and depressed (but not depressed enough to accept the advances from a drunk she encountered at a bar), Maisie is forced to take a different type of job in law enforcement. Rather than spending her days as a detective solving murders, or kicking down doors and arresting bad guys, she becomes a meter maid.
The meter maid job is temporary; Maisie views it as a stepping stone to get back into police academy and eventually onto the force. That’s if things go according to plan though, which they immediately do not.
It’s around this point in the story that Mack begins to really show off her writing skills, weaving in twists, turns and numerous funny moments that will literally make you LOL (that means Laugh Out Loud for those of you who still haven’t mastered texting abbreviations) as you read along.
As the story unfolds, the reader is met with a lot of questions that beg for answers. Maisie’s family, which once seemed close-knit and loving, starts to show signs of being overprotective and controlling. Readers will quickly learn that not everything is as it once seemed, keeping you off-balance and on high alert as the story progresses.
I’m not saying that there’s anything up with the McGrane family, but I’m not saying there isn’t either–the point is that Mack knows how to slip in just enough subtleties to keep readers suspicious and on-edge.
As she settles into her new job, a confrontational moment between Maisie and the mayor leads to her becoming somewhat of a local celebrity after footage of the encounter goes viral online. She does her best to embrace her situation, but is always worried what her parents and brothers will think of her. In that sense, Time’s Up is a coming-of-age story wrapped around a mystery thriller, all masterfully crafted together.
Pressing on with her life, Maisie soon uncovers a conspiracy that reaches to the very top offices of the local government. Fueled by the relentless pursuit of her dream to one day become a police officer, she’ll stop at nothing to to try and solve the mystery in front of her–even if it puts a target on her back and her life in serious danger. It’s no longer just about proving to her family that she belongs on the force, it’s about proving it to herself.
Janey Mack did a fantastic job fleshing out her main character, who is instantly likable. Maisie reminds me a lot of Harlan Coben’s leading lady in his upcoming novel Fool Me Once, which is the highest rated thriller on our 2016 Ratings Board. Along with Brad Taylor’s Jennifer Cahill, Joshua Hood’s Renee Hart, and Vince Flynn’s Irene Kennedy, Mack’s Maisie McGrane is one of the strongest female characters in the genre today.
Talented writing, compelling characters, and a well-plotted mystery that moves at breakneck speeds (with just the right amount of humor sprinkled in) makes Time’s Up a must-read for any fan of the genre.
Mack is an author to watch closely, as she has serious breakout potential and could soon join the ranks of Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), and other superstar female thriller authors. I’d personally love to see Maisie’s story spread out over a dozen or so episodes as a TV show, and think it could do well.
The second book in the Maisie McGrane series, Choked Up, is already out and available for purchase. Her third novel is scheduled to come out later this year, and I’m really excited to read it. Janey Mack could write her next book on a napkin with a crayon, and I’d still stand in line to buy it–in the cold, while it’s snowing… with no coat. Yup, she’s that good!
Author: Janey Mack
Pages: 356 (Paperback)
Release Date: June 30, 2015 (order now!)