michael lister

Review of ‘Blood Work’

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In 1978, Ted Bundy, one of America’s most vicious serial killers, cut a bloody swath through Florida before he was arrested, convicted, and subsequently executed. Around the same time that Bundy was making his way through Florida toward Alabama, and his date with the executioner, Janet Leigh Lester, had been crowned Miss Valentine in her town pageant and Queen of the high school Sweetheart Dance. On the way to meet her boyfriend, she disappeared, and when her blood-filled car was found, was presumed dead. Prison chaplain John Jordan’s father, Jack, sheriff in a neighboring county was called in to investigate her disappearance because the local sheriff’s son was her boyfriend, and thus, a suspect. Though Jack cleared the boyfriend, and was convinced that Janet was one of Bundy’s victims, decades later, retired and seriously ill, he begins to have second thoughts, and is relentlessly pursuing this coldest of cold cases. Seeking to establish a better relationship; with his often distant father, John agrees to help him investigate.

As the two men begin retracing old leads, they face the unfortunate racial history of this part of Florida, family relationships that are beyond dysfunctional, and a mysterious stranger who is threatening Jack in an effort to get him to drop the investigation.

Blood Work, by award-winning author, Michael Lister, is another chilling and evocative tale in the John Jordan series that will keep you on the edge of your chair from page one. As the two learn more, things come to light that have been kept in the shadows for decades, and finally lead to a conclusion that I will not even hint at in order to avoid spoiling this fascinating book for readers. Suffice it to say, like John, you will be shocked to the core at the ending.

I’ve read several books in this series, and I have to say, this one is the best by far.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Carrie’s Gift’

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Award-winning author Michael Lister is best known for his John Jordan mystery novels, evocative stories about a chaplain in the Florida prison system. In Carrie’s Gift Lister demonstrates clearly that his talents transcend the mystery genre. Ethan is back home twenty years after his high school graduation to deliver the eulogy at a classmate’s funeral. The only thing he really wants, though, is to be alone with Carrie, the lost love of his life.

Lister writes this sad romance with the deft touch of a poet and the skill of a master mystery writer, taking the reader on a profound journey into the human heart and mind. This story will bring tears to your eyes.

I received a free copy of this book. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Innocent Blood’

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John Jordan is a prison chaplain who often finds himself neck-deep in investigating crimes at the same time as he’s trying to help the incarcerated find peace. But, where did it all start? How did a cop turned chaplain get interested in doing what he does? Innocent Blood by Michael Lister is a prequel to the John Jordan mysteries that tells the story of a young John Jordan, whose father was in law enforcement in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. During a trip to Atlanta, young John had an encounter with the man known as the Atlanta Child Murderer. Already captivated, almost to the point of obsession, with the murders of young black boys by an unknown killer, when Jordan later learns that the man he confronted in a video game parlor was, in fact, the killer. But, something about the case bothers John. The man was convicted of killing two adults, and while he was suspected of the other murders, he was never charged. John is not convinced that he killed all the kids people say he did, but he’s also not convinced that he is, as some believe, completely innocent.

After graduating from high school, John decides to enroll in an Atlanta seminary to become a lay spiritualist, while at the same time, using his free time to investigate the killings. He focuses on one child, one who was never thought to be the victim of the Atlanta Child Murderer, but whose case remains unsolved. He becomes involved with the slain boy’s mother and adopted sister, and finds himself drawn into events that threaten to overwhelm him.

The author does an amazing job of filling in Jordan’s background, while at the same time, painting a richly detailed picture of the region and its society and culture at the time. This is mystery as mystery should be. Red herrings, false clues, but just enough hints to make you think you know who the killer is, and then he springs it on you like those compressed snakes from the joke tube that you enjoyed as a kid—provided you’re a kid of the Baby Boom generation. The characters are so deftly drawn you’ll feel that you know them.

I give this one five stars.

Review of ‘Written in the Blood’

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In prison there are no secrets. This is something ex-cop turned prison chaplain John Jordan discovers, as he wrestles with his personal demons—a broken marriage, a drinking problem, and the haunting memories of a case he worked when he was a cop in Atlanta. Now the chaplain of a prison in a small Florida town, he has to deal with the blood that always seems to be around him.

Written in the Blood: Volume 1 by Michael Lister is a completely different kind of mystery, one that is not defined by others in the genre; it is, in fact, in a category of its own. Lister, himself a former prison chaplain, writes with authenticity and with a level of detail, both in the physical descriptions and the peeks into the psyches of the characters that is unmatched. You can smell the blood and desperation, and feel the tension from the opening sentence until the final word. This volume contains two full-length novels and a series of short stories that give the back stories of Jordan’s life. The author states up front that the short stories can be skipped, but I strongly encourage reading this book from start to finish.

Lister is a voice to watch on the mystery scene. Five stars to Lister, and a plea to keep ’em coming!