I received this book via the Goodreads First Reads program in exchanged for an honest review.
The legacy of Chicago’s very own, mostly forgotten, superhero suddenly becomes center stage when a gunman demands the police come clean on the hero’s supposed death or innocent people will die. T.J. Martinson’s debut novel, The Reign of the Kingfisher, follows several characters attempting to stop the gunman in their separate ways before coming together and using the information they collected to help stop the gunman.
Early in the morning of a soon-to-be hot Chicago summer day, a retired journalist is awakened by a call from Chicago Chief of Police and sees a video of a gunman claiming that the CPD helped the Kingfisher fake his death and demand they come clean before killing a hostage and threatening several more with the same fate. Recognizing the victim as someone he interviewed for his book about the superhero, the journalist gets concerned about others which gets the attention of a CPD detective who has a suspended CPD officer look into the journalist’s list. Meanwhile a hacktivist is angry that the gunman is claiming to be a part of her group and to stop him hacks the CPD database to get a medical exam of the Kingfisher case to prove he might be alive only for the gunman to kill another hostage. After several up and downs, the four characters come together and are able bring their talents and discovers together to bring resolution to the situation.
This mystery with a fantasy twist begins with an intriguing premise and some interesting flashbacks, halfway through the book I came up with three possible ways it could play out or in various combinations which made me look forward to see how things would end. However, while I correctly picked the villain and partially got the ending scenario right that doesn’t mean I was satisfied with the book. While the three main and two (or three) secondary characters all came out of central casting, that didn’t make them bad as they started off interesting and developed well. However they either stopped developing to become stale or began doing and saying things that was completely out of the blue from where they had been heading (or both), which undercut the quality of the storytelling. In addition some of the minor subplots, in particular the Police Chief’s, were detrimental to the overall book once it was over.
The Reign of the Kingfisher has a great premise, but unfortunately it doesn’t really achieve its potential. While T.J. Martinson might just be beginning a long career, his debut novel is a mixture of good and bad that in the end makes the reader think about how good a book it could have been.