As well as writing gritty hardboiled mystery novels, J.D. Rhoades also practices law in Carthage, North Carolina. His first novel, The Devil’s Right Hand brought immediate attention when it was nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. novel.
The Jack Keller series was the first series introduced by Rhoades and has since been joined by the Tony Wolf series.
Jack Keller is a bounty hunter and a Gulf War veteran who is also carrying some baggage in the form of past experiences that come back to haunt him. The fact that he is a bounty hunter, though, doesn't mean we should expect the standard bounty hunter type of story - such as you might find in the highly recommended DKA Files by Joe Gores.
Instead we follow a guy who is prepared to take on any asshole foolish enough to endanger him or those he loves. The series starts with a bang in the form of The Devil's Right Hand (2005) which takes off at tremendous pace and sets the tone of the series in no uncertain terms.
Keller is an interesting character. He’s the kind of guy who is prepared to do whatever it takes to fight the bad guy and that’s precisely what keeps on getting him in trouble. These qualities make him a character that inspires the reader to keep on reading, knowing that just about anything could happen. He won’t follow rules and is going to cop some flak for it.
The first two books in the series describe a man who is barely in control as he occasionally suffers flashbacks to his days in Afghanistan. By the time the 3rd book, Safe and Sound, ends there is a definite sense of unhinging as Keller heads back to the desert. This follows a particularly brutal confrontation in the North Carolina mountains that leaves his girlfriend Marie and her son Ben both traumatised.
Tony Wolf is an undercover FBI agent, but not just any undercover with ordinary skills, he is an exceptional talent - possibly the best ever. This makes for fascinating reading as all sorts of resources and skills are brought out into the pursuit for the criminals he chases.
The books in the Tony Wolf series are fast paced and provocative and contain the perfect ingredients for fans of modern-day thrillers that contain aspects of the real world throughout. At the time of writing the series consists of the two books, both of which are set in the small town of Pine Lake.