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Fair Warning (Jack McEvoy Book 3) by [Michael Connelly]
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Fair Warning (Jack McEvoy Book 3) Kindle Edition

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Part of: Jack McEvoy (3 Books)

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Books In This Series (3 Books)

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From the Publisher

An excerpt from Chapter 1

I had called the story “The King of Con Artists.” At least that was my headline. I typed it up top but was pretty sure it would get changed because it would be overstepping my bounds as a reporter to turn in a story with a headline. The headlines and the decks below them were the purview of the editor and I could already hear Myron Levin chiding, “Does the editor rewrite your ledes or call up the subjects of your pieces to ask additional questions? No, he doesn’t. He stays in his lane and that means you need to stay in yours.”

Since Myron was that editor, it would be hard to come back with any sort of defense. But I sent in the story with the suggested headline anyway because it was perfect. The story was about the dark netherworld of the debt-collection business—600 million dollars a year of it siphoned off in scams—and the rule at FairWarning was to bring every fraud down to a face, either the predator’s or the prey’s, the victim’s or the victimizer’s. And this time it was the predator. Arthur Hathaway, the King of Con Artists, was the best of the best. At sixty-two years old, he had worked every con imaginable in a life of crime centered in Los Angeles, from selling fake gold bars to setting up phony disaster-relief websites. Right now, he ran a racket convincing people they owed money that they didn’t really owe, and getting them to pay it. And he was so good at it that junior swindlers were paying him for lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays at a defunct acting studio in Van Nuys. I had infiltrated as one of his students and learned all I could. Now it was time to write the story and use Arthur to expose an industry that bilked millions each year from everybody from little old ladies with dwindling bank accounts to young professionals already deep in the red with college loans. They all fell victim and sent their money because Arthur Hathaway convinced them to send it. And now he was teaching eleven future con men and one undercover reporter how to do it for fifty bucks a head twice a week. The swindler school itself might be his greatest con of all. The guy was truly a king with a psychopath’s complete lack of guilt. I also had reporting in the story on the victims whose bank accounts he had cleaned out and whose lives he had ruined.

Myron had already placed the story as a co-project with the Los Angeles Times, and that guaranteed it would be seen and the Los Angeles Police Department would have to take notice. King Arthur’s reign would soon be over and his round table of junior con men would be rounded up as well.

I read the story a final time and sent it to Myron, copying William Marchand, the attorney who reviewed all FairWarning stories pro bono. We didn’t put anything up on the website that was not legally bulletproof. FairWarning was a five-person operation if you counted the reporter in Washington, DC, who worked out of her home. One “wrong story” spawning a winning lawsuit or forced settlement would put us out of business, and then I’d be what I had been at least twice before in my career: a reporter with no place to go.

I got up from my cubby to tell Myron the story was finally in, but he was in his own cubicle talking on the phone, and I could tell as I approached that he was on a fundraising call. Myron was founder, editor, reporter, and chief fundraiser for FairWarning. It was an Internet news site with no paywall. There was a donate button at the bottom page of every story and sometimes at the top, but Myron was always looking for the great white whale that would sponsor us and turn us from beggars into choosers—at least for a while.

“There really is no entity doing what we’re doing—tough watchdog journalism for the consumer,” Myron told each prospective donor. “If you check out our site you’ll see many stories in the archives that take on powerful kingpin industries including auto, pharmaceutical, and wireless companies. And with the current administration’s philosophy of deregulation and limiting oversight, there is nobody out there looking out for the little guy. Look, I get it, there are donations you could make that might give you a more visible bang for your buck. Twenty-five dollars a month keeps a kid fed and clothed in Appalachia. I get that. It makes you feel good. But you donate to FairWarning, and what you are supporting is a team of reporters dedicated to—”

I heard “the pitch” several times a day, day in and day out. I also attended the Sunday salons where Myron and board members spoke to potential white-hat donors, and I mingled with them afterward, mentioning the stories I was working on. I had some extra cachet at these gatherings as the author of two bestselling books, though it was never mentioned that it had been more than ten years since I had published anything. I knew the pitch was important and vital to my own paycheck—not that I was getting anywhere close to a living wage for Los Angeles—but I had heard it so many times in my four years at FairWarning that I could recite it in my sleep. Backward.

Myron stopped to listen to his potential investor and muted the phone before looking up at me.

“You in?” he asked.

“Just sent it,” I said. “Also to Bill.”

“Okay, I’ll read it tonight and we can talk tomorrow if I have anything.”

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of June 2020: Fair Warning is Michael Connelly’s third book featuring Jack McEvoy, the tireless reporter whom the author views as his alter ego. The story starts out briskly and never slows, as McEvoy is approached by a couple of Los Angeles detectives who inform him that he is a person of interest in a murder investigation. Tina Portrero has been found dead, and McEvoy spent a night with her about a year prior. With that, we are off and running—and anyone who has read the previous McEvoy books (The Poet and The Scarecrow) will know that this reporter’s drive and talent will lead to an investigation of his own. As Jack begins to uncover the details behind Tina’s death, he opens up a much bigger case. There appears to be a serial killer on the loose, and as McEvoy digs further—and eventually employs the aid of others, including former FBI agent Rachel Waller—he is drawn into the business of DNA analysis, and eventually into the dark web. This is dangerous, sometimes creepy stuff, and Connelly manages to make a salient point about the importance of good journalism at the same time that he drives his plot to a satisfying end. —Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Review

"Connelly is in terrific form here, applying genre conventions to the real-life dangers inherent in the commercial marketing of genetics research."
Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

"[A] fast-paced thriller, written by a master of the genre."
Christina Ianzito, AARP

"There is no better news than a new book from the great Michael Connelly... Fair Warning brings back reporter Jack McEvoy, a character I always liked every bit as Harry Bosch or Mickey Haller or Renee Ballard... Connelly [is] at the very top of his game."―Mike Lupica, New York Daily News

"A truly terrifying thriller... [Jack McEvoy] has appeared in only two previous novels, but they are two of Connelly's best: The Poet and The Scarecrow. McEvoy makes it three for three with this riveting tale."―Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)

"Intruiging... Throughout his outstanding thrillers, Michael Connelly has expertly weaved contemporary issues into solid plots... Connelly also has achieved this in his novels about journalist Jack McEvoy, who makes his third most welcome appearance in Fair Warning."―Oline H. Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"Score another one for the dean of America's crime writers... Fair Warning sheds light on the murky billion-dollar world of DNA testing... the subject [is] ripe for a good mystery. And Michael Connelly is just the guy to write it."―Sandra Dallas, Denver Post

"Like all of Connelly's novels, Fair Warning is a satisfying adrenalin rush."―Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"Darkly essential reading for every genre fan who's ever considered sending a swab to a mail-order DNA testing service."
Kirkus (starred review)

"A smart, propulsive thriller... Connelly excels in making investigative reporting as enthralling as any action scene. Fair Warning shines a spotlight on the shocking lack of government oversight in the field of DNA analysis and ancestry identification... Connelly spins a skin-crawling, cutting-edge mystery about the dangerous ways the data can be mined."―Shelf Awareness --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

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