There was a good many years between Jeff Strand publishing the third and fourth Andrew Mayhem thrillers, and my advice to people reading the series (like I just did) from books one to four in a relatively short space of time is, quite simply, don't.
Lost Homicidal Maniac: (Answers to "Shirley") is the worst in an otherwise entertaining and very readable group of books. It makes most of the mistakes that subsequent entries into a franchise often do by trying to go for bigger and badder, and therefore by association, stupider. Of course, Mayhem's tales are not meant to be painstakingly realistic. But there were several times in Lost Homicidal Maniac that my suspension of disbelief threw its hands in the air, shook its head, and packed it in for the night, telling me I was on my own.
The conversation (in my head) went something like this:
Suspension of Disbelief: Okay. And with that, I'm done.
Me: Dramatic much?
SoD: Oh come on. You are so not buying that a group of jack-o-lantern mask wearing assholes can shoot up a bunch of cops in the middle of neighbourhood and no-one is able to track them from that moment in time? Im this day and age?
Me: To be fair, this is set back at the start of the millennium. Give or take.
SoD: So?! We had police helicopters and infra-red cameras back then!
Me: I think you're getting overly upset over not a whole hell of a lot.
SoD: That's because you haven't seen the explanation Strand serves up for Shirley.
Me: No, I haven't. And neither have you. Because that's at least 50 pages from now.
SoD: I know. I'm just summarising to be efficient.
Me: Fair enough. Yeah, I have to agree that explanation felt a little tacked on.
SoD: And what about Mr Burke?! Could any James Bond villain be more OTT? And dumb?! And who would work for such a turd? How realistic is that? And then there's the very last twist ...
Me: Alright, alright - spoilers!
SoD: Stick your spoilers. I'm outta here. Wake me up when you read something with dragons or human-eating aliens...
*ahem* So, yeah, my disappointment in this one is significant. There were too many contrivances; too many last-gasp, fortunate escapes; and way too many shoe-horned in plot elements for me to be able to recommend this one. Plus I'm a little over Mayhem's kids being in the think of the action (now, they're too integral to the plot, as opposed to how they were way back in Graverobbers Wanted: No Experience Necessary).
However, if you've read this far in the series, don't let my review put you off. My advice would simply be to better space out your reading of the novels. I suspect I would have liked this one more had I not recently read the superior Casket For Sale: Only Used Once.
2.5 (2 here; 3 on Amazon) Beyond Poor-taste Diabolical Plans for Lost Homicidal Maniac: (Answers to "Shirley").