Sunday, March 30, 2008

Shake Down - Book Review

Shake Down
Joel Goldman
Pinnacle Books, Kensington Publishing Corp, 2008
397 pages

FBI Special Agent Jack Davis has been patiently monitoring a notorious drug mobster, Marcellus Pearson, and is close to cracking the drug ring when someone kills Marcellus, his body guards, and his family. Although the reader is a witness to the five murders and knows who the killer is, the story is does not stop there. Another drug dealer ends up dead. Was it the same killer?

Just before the murders, Agent Davis began to experience disabling shakes and spasms, which he could hide at first but is soon required to take a leave of absence. Although not officially assigned to the case, Jack simply can’t sit at home and do nothing, especially since he is estranged from his wife and still getting used to living alone. He continues to surreptitiously investigate and uncover clues that are unsettling. When suspicions are raised about his daughter’s boyfriend, an undercover FBI agent, Jack seeks the assistance of a friend and co-worker Kate Scranton, an expert in the art of reading people’s faces for tell-tale signs of lies and hidden emotions. Their relationship develops as do Jack’s skills at the Facial Action Coding System, which allow him to better judge the suspect he is interrogating. He doesn’t always like what he sees.

As Jack’s tremors and the case grow more intense, the story just continues to unfold, layer after twisty layer of intrigue and surprises.

My review: I loved this book! The story was so intriguing, with new developments popping up in each chapter. The plot was unpredictable and always exciting, and the characters were well developed. The writer’s level of detail regarding the facial interpretation systems, movement disorders (and the long road to diagnosis), Kansas City, FBI work, and drug rings made me wonder if this was really a non-fiction documentary. As one anonymous person jokingly said, “the difference between fiction and non-fiction is that fiction has to be believable.” This book was definitely believable!

Personal note: I felt personally connected to the main character because of his mysterious spasms and tremors. I had a similar experience before I was diagnosed with MS where I would be hit with sudden muscle spasms on my right side that left me writhing in pain on the floor. Unpredictable and disabling, just like Agent Davis’ experiences. Fortunately, I didn’t have a killer to catch or a family life to repair.


  1. As I stated elsewhere this seems like my kind of book.
    told ya' I'd read you review!

  2. Thanks, Shauna! I did see your comment in BrainCheese, which is why I kept plugging away.

  3. Sounds like there are now at least TWO Joel Goldman fans! LOL I'm adding his prior novels to my list of reads in the future...great review!

    Linda D. in Seattle

  4. I love thrillers and mysteries--now I have 2 good reviews from Linda and you so will make an effort to look for it soon at my bookstore--it will be interesting to see how he ties neurological symptoms in a mystery format. Thanks!