A Book Spy Review: ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ by Janey Mack

41aFS1YOxAL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Janey Mack’s latest novel picks up right where her last one left off. Shoot ‘Em Up opens with Maisie McGrane in an ambulance on her way to the hospital. Surrounded by her entire Irish Catholic, close-knit family, Maisie wakes up from surgery to find everyone waiting for answers about why she was mixing it up with criminals and how she managed to get herself stabbed in the thigh. 

Maisie comes from a well-known Chicago family where you’re expected to become either a cop or a lawyer. Maisie had previously attempted to follow her Da and brothers’ footsteps by joining the Chicago Police Department (Time’s Up). But she was disqualified from the academy over a bogus technicality, which she later learned was actually all her father’s doing in an effort to keep her from harm’s way.

To say that the McGrane family is overprotective would be a massive understatement. The entire clan still lives at their parents’ home, a huge house in one of the nicest parts of Chicago. Maisie is the only girl surrounded by a handful of big brothers, half of them cops, who watch over her with a loving, tenacious sense of responsibility. 

Yet as the McGranes nicely interrogate Maisie about how she got herself into this mess, unable to comprehend how she could have put herself in harm’s way, little do they know that she’s not actually a freelance reporter for the Chicago Sentinel like everyone thinks. She’s actually an undercover police officer and no one other than the Chief and a few seasoned officers are privy to that information.

Rather than spill all the events leading up to her stabbing (which is the basis for Mack’s second novel, (Choked Up), she allows the pain killers to put her back to sleep. Doctors order two weeks of light duty, and then it’s whatever she can handle. 

Her family insists that she come home to recover. Maisie had been living with her boyfriend who, as seen in the last book, lives a bit of second life himself. With Hank out of the country, she reluctantly agrees to return home, where she spends a few weeks resting and healing up. Then, just as soon as possible, she gets back to work.

An assassination attempt on the Mayor of Chicago has the police force busy. Something about the way it went down doesn’t feel right, including how the mayor–a womanizing schmuck–leaped to protect his wife as shots rang out around him.

Using what little pull he has with the Justice Department, the mayor has agents from the ATF and the DEA brought to Chicago. Maisie, the only deep-cover officer with ties to the gang believed to have a role in the assassination, is expected to help out. 

In addition to that, there’s Violetta Veteratti, who now runs the streets and criminal underworld in Chicago after her brother, Eddie, was forced to enter rehab. Believing Maisie’s cover, Veteratti offers her a shady business deal that would only put more heat on Maisie in the future should things ever go south. 

She also learns that Hank, her AWOL boyfriend, has put a security team on her 24/7. That makes her job and cover more difficult, but not nearly as bad as her boundary-pushing family who doesn’t allow her even a shred of secrecy. Their overprotecting ways were merely a life-long annoyance until recently, but now, unbeknownst to them, it was actually threatening her safety. 

Things get even dicier when Maisie learns that one of her lawyer brothers has taken on a gang-banging client that she has ties with–a guy who literally helped Maisie hide a dead body not even two months prior. And then, with her plate already stuffed to maximum capacity, Maisie’s situation becomes even more complex after her brother, Cash, is shot during a SWAT raid. 

As Maisie tries to clear the painkiller-induced haze from her mind, she feels lost without Hank’s guidance and calm demeanor. Between the ATF and DEA investigation, Violetta Veteratti’s offer to become partners in crime, her brother’s client who, should he talk, threatens her entire career, and vowing to seek justice for whoever shot Cash–Maisie can barely tell up from down. But she’s a McGrane, and McGranes don’t ever give up. 

Even with the entire world crashing down around her, Maisie is determined to navigate her way through the numerous obstacles and come out on the other side. No matter how stacked the odds are against her, she attacks each situation with the same sardonic smile, foul-mouth, and quick-witted personality that makes her one of the genre’s most charming and lovable leading ladies. 

Filled to the brim with conspiracies, action, and Aaron Sorkin-like dialogue, Shoot ‘Em Up is a fun, first-rate thriller that will satisfy a wide range of readers. Janey Mack is a rising star,  and those other female authors whose books have “Girl” in the titles ain’t got nothing on her! 

Why I Loved It

Nobody in this genre makes me laugh harder or more often than Janey Mack. Maisie is a breath of fresh, politically incorrect air and I love the sarcastic, edgy one-liners that she’s become known for. 

In Time’s Up, Maisie shut down an over-eager guy at the bar with “Move along, pal. I haven’t upgraded to misery yet.”

This time out she hits back with “Think again, pal. Casual sex isn’t in my job description or my repressed Catholic schoolgirl DNA,” when someone suggests she sleep her way into a convincing cover story. 

Whether it’s lines like those, or comparing her hobbled self to the “girl version of Jimmy from South Park,” Maisie’s inner dialogue is hilariously entertaining. 

Why You Should Read It

Janey Mack’s writing style makes her work attractive to a very diverse group of readers. If you enjoyed Gone Girl or Girl on the Train, meeting Maisie McGrane is an absolute must. Likewise, if you’re into mysteries and police dramas, there’s more than enough of that in this book to go around. 

Mack’s sharp dialogue, which is truly in a class of its own, is the icing on the cake, though. If screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, Moneyball, The Social Network, The Newsroom) wrote a novel, this is exactly how I imagine the characters would speak to each other. 

Book Details

Author: Janey Mack

Pages: 341 (Paperback)

Publisher: Kensington

Release Date: September 27, 2016 (Order now!)

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5 comments

  1. I have been in love with Maisie McGrane since Janey Mack introduced her in Time’s Up. My love affair continued with the next book in the series, Choked Up and strengthened in Shoot ’em Up.

    McGrane is that girl on the schoolyard that will kick your butt in dodge ball at recess and win Homecoming Queen that night.

    Mack has the unique talent of making you part of Maisie’s thought world and giving you a narrative that makes you feel that you are just out of harm’s way but part of the action.

    Neither the plot or the characters is subjugated to the other, rather they compliment one another like a Porterhouse and a pale ale.

    The Maisie McGrane series is the perfect complement to a day on the beach, a long airplane flight, waiting for your kid’s swim lesson to be over, or curled up in front of the fire with a glass of bourbon and your trusted Hound.

    Like

  2. All right, all right, Ryan, after your rave review of Janey’s book, I’m in! Are you quite sure that you were never in advertising? Anyway it sounds right up
    my street. Maybe a book some day where my character, Shit Smith runs up against the likes of Maisie McGrane. You think sparks wouldn’t fly? Shit said a line today I had to write down: “Sometimes I get so goddam bored I kill folks just for practice. You know, just for the sheer fuckall of it.”

    Like

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