by Bruce TierneyFebruary, 2006
Have gun, will meddle
Escape Clause marks the third appearance of Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigator Bill Tasker, hero of the 2005 novel Shock Wave and 2004's Walking Money. Tasker, a likable enough fellow, displays a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, then using his gun. Early in Escape Clause he witnesses a holdup while visiting his bank with his young daughter; in classic Tasker fashion, he draws a bead on one of the holdup men and dispatches him to the Great Beyond. During the ensuing investigation, Tasker is sent out of harm's way to investigate a mysterious death in a remote Florida prison. Although ostensibly on the same side of the law, correctional officers and cops share no love for one another, at least in the world of writer James O. Born, and Tasker finds himself dissed and dismissed by the prison staff. At one point, the enmity becomes so pronounced that the duty guard turns a blind eye as Tasker is mauled by some of the inmates. Clearly, Tasker is on to something, and equally clearly, virtually nobody wants him to succeed: not the prison staff, not the inmates, perhaps not even his politically savvy boss. Escape Clause would be best read by those familiar with the series, as several oblique references are made to events that took place in the two previous books. That said, the series and its major characters are evolving in interesting and believable ways.