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Jack's Boys


Jack's Boys

Award-winning author John Katzenbach has been producing top-rate thrillers for decades. In fact, three of his more popular works were turned into the hit films Just Cause, Hart’s War and The Mean Season. Now we are treated to what may be his most outstanding novel yet. At over 600 pages, JACK’S BOYS does not waste a spare word and will hold you in suspense and terror until the final page is turned.

Here we have not one but five serial killers who operate under the moniker Jack’s Boys. Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Easy have adopted common military names to protect their anonymity and are known only to each other. They meet regularly in a chat room called Jack’s Special Place, where they share their exploits and support each other in their individual hunts. Jack’s Boys are scattered across the country and occasionally partner up on special missions, which they record for future analysis and enjoyment.

"I can only hope that Katzenbach receives some much-deserved award consideration for what easily will be one of my favorite books of 2024."

Early on, we see a bored police officer somewhere in France horrified when he receives the photo of a mutilated corpse that obviously had been tortured. We soon learn that Jack’s Boys, in one of their more playful moments, secretly hacked into a random law enforcement site to show off one of their many trophies. The group is named after the infamous Jack the Ripper, who, like them, was never caught. So imagine their shock and subsequent anger when an outsider hacks into one of their sessions.

Using the online name socgoal02, a high school student named Connor searches the dark web for information on committing a murder. His mother was killed by a drunk driver, and he wants the perpetrator, who is already out of jail, to pay. Connor is being raised by his grandparents, a Vietnam vet and an ICU nurse. While visiting Jack’s Special Place, Connor mocks Jack’s Boys and behaves in a generally insufferable manner, making him and his girlfriend, Nikki, instant targets for their vengeance.

Jack’s Boys see themselves as killers for the new millennium. As such, they combine their skill sets to easily track down Connor and Nikki. It is decided that Bravo will do the actual killing of the two teens, which, of course, will be recorded live for the rest of the Boys to enjoy. Charlie really wants to take down Nikki as he is a teacher in real life who targets young girls. Easy just wants to be involved and is in Massachusetts where Connor lives to introduce himself to the kill party.

However, it all goes terribly wrong, and it isn’t long before Jack’s Boys loses two of its members. The other three reconvene in person and plan a Christmas Eve attack on Connor and Nikki, which is so thrilling and suspenseful that it may be one of the best fight scenes I have ever read.

JACK’S BOYS needs to be made into a streaming series. The mix of classic serial killer lore, Jack the Ripper history, and modern use of the internet and social media makes it a can’t-miss read that no one will ever forget. I can only hope that Katzenbach receives some much-deserved award consideration for what easily will be one of my favorite books of 2024.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 15, 2024

Jack's Boys
by John Katzenbach

  • Publication Date: May 28, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 540 pages
  • Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
  • ISBN-10: B0CRLYSX98
  • ISBN-13: 9798200894079