Plot or Premise
Walter Sherman has one unique skill. He can find anything that someone is searching for, which, most of the time, is a person. His nickname is the Locator, which he earned in Vietnam. Now he earns a living doing 5-10 jobs a year when people come to him asking him to find someone. In this first book in the series, a bunch of suits want him to find whoever is killing off the business people who were involved in a tainted meat scandal.
What I Liked
The premise is unique. While lots of series have private investigators who take on cases, including missing person cases, or series with police detectives hunting a serial killer, Walter isn’t any of these things. He only works by referral from someone that he has done work for in the past; he doesn’t advertise, he has no office or website, etc. Finding an anonymous killer? Not something he normally does. But the money is too good to say no, and it seems like the killer is worth catching.
The book series was made into a short-lived TV show (The Finder), with a number of significant changes — they made it that he was injured in Iraq or Afghanistan and can now find things, he’s not living in the US Virgin Islands, but somewhere in Florida, there’s an on-again/off-again love interest who is also a US Marshal, etc.
The business side of the story is pretty well-done, although a couple of the “bad” business guys are a little bit of a cliché. Nevertheless, it has almost an early John Grisham feel to it in places. And the bar near his home, Billy’s bar, with Billy and Ike as his two best friends, is really well done.
What I Didn’t Like
While Walter doesn’t know the identity of the killer, the reader does. And it takes some of the mystery out. Walter is barely present for the first 20% of the book, so it’s pretty heavy on an exposition of additional characters. Plus, while one of the main characters starts to identify with the killer’s sense of “justice,” and you are meant to see the callousness of the original, the vicious deaths that are delivered are only mildly explained. I never felt any sympathy for the killer, and the ending is questionable. There’s also no explanation of how he knows everything he does or how he found it all out; he just shows up, kills someone, and moves on. There’s only one scene where it shows him “stalking” someone, and even that is relatively bland.
However, I think my biggest objections are a love interest that we are told is all about passion but doesn’t seem to really drive any chemistry except in a scene or two, and the original “hook” that gets Walter involved is glossed over. The reader knows they are scummy people, but Walter’s reasons to help are murky at best. Later he reacts as if he was betrayed, but most of what they told him was relatively true — they just didn’t tell him the whole story, and despite being an ace interrogator, he seems surprised to learn other details they hid from him. Yet the story moves along at a good clip, so while I would be tempted to drop it to 3 out of 5, the pace bumps it back to 4.
The Bottom Line
Come for the Locator…who eventually joins the story