A Book Spy Review: ‘Man Overboard’ By J.A. Jance

JA Jance Man Overboard.jpgRoger McGeary, a cyber security expert for a California-based firm, falls off a cruise ship into the English Channel during an all-expenses paid trip.

But was it an accident, or did McGeary jump?

Roger’s aunt, Julia Miller, doesn’t believe her nephew’s death was accidental or suicide. As she sees it, he’d battled depression and hardship ever since his father killed himself many years ago. He was finally in a good place, and thus had no reason to off himself or put himself in a risky situation. To find out for sure, she enlists the help of Stu Ramey, who works for a cyber security firm called High Noon Enterprises, located in Arizona. As kids, Stu and Roger were friends, so he’s happy to lend a hand and gets right to work.

It doesn’t take long for both Stu and Julia to realize that their poking around has consequences. Unknowingly, they’ve become part of a sick and twisted game being played by a ruthless serial killer.

As the plot unfolds, Ramey learns that Owen Hansen, who owns the boat that Roger fell off of, is the son of a man who committed suicide. The more they investigate Hansen, the more it appears that the man is perhaps killing other people whose parents killed themselves. His motive, however, is less than clear. 

Ramey continues his digital battle with Hansen (also a genius-level computer hacker), who is helped out by his AI sidekick, Frigg (who makes IBM’s Watson look like Siri). Suprisingly, Frigg is given a rather large role in the veteran bestseller’s latest story, and Jance gets creative with the way man and machine are able to work together. 

With each click of his keyboard, Ramey becomes more and more deeply entwined in Owen’s game, setting up for a high-stakes showdown that ends the novel on a strong note.

Overall, parts of the plot are really clunky. The pieces struggle to fit together, which causes a fair amount of confusion. The story itself is improbable, and all the players seem to be genius computer analysts, hackers, or cyber-security experts. Except, of course, for Frigg, who, after some initial slow chapters, does end up adding a much-needed second layer to the story. The bad guy’s motives are far-fetched, but if you can look past that, well, he’s definitely a despicable and dislikeable villain. 

Ali Reynolds–who is a co-owner of High Noon Enterprises and the star of Jance’s series–is present (as is her husband and other series regulars), but she plays a secondary role to Ramey. While not her best work to date, Man Overboard will likely keep fans of Jance’s franchise satisfied until the next installment, while newcomers will most likely struggle to get into the story.

Book Details

Author: J.A. Jance
Series: Ali Reynolds #12
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501110802
Publisher: Touchstone
Release Date: March 21, 2017 (Order Now!)

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