t's nice to see that Robert Crais isn't sitting on his laurels. After winning almost-universal recognition for Elvis Cole, his wisecracking LA private eye, and with seven Cole novels in the bag, Crais has forsaken Cole for a new - and equally compelling - character in his new thriller, "Demolition Angel".
It's been three years since Carol Starkey, an officer with the LAPD Bomb Squad, last encountered a ticking bomb. The last time she was called out, the suspect device detonated unexpectedly, leaving her badly injured and killing her then-partner and lover. Now, three years and four therapists later, Starkey is called out to investigate the death of Charles Riggio, a fellow Bomb Squad officer who died when a bomb exploded while he was trying to dismantle it.
An initial investigation quickly reveals that the "accidental" detonation was actually a deliberate homicide - one which bears the mark of a bomber known only as "Mr. Red". As Starkey, with a little help from an ATF agent named Pell, discovers, Mr. Red's "hobby" is building bombs targeted specifically at the best bomb technicians - and he's now after Starkey. It's up to Starkey to find him first...
A well-written suspense novel, "Demolition Angel" has one of the most original storylines I've seen in a while, and Crais certainly does it justice. Right from the word go, this story grabs you by the throat and keeps you turning pages until the stunning conclusion. Crais being Crais, the story is well-written and well-paced; particularly interesting are the chapters written from Mr. Red's viewpoint, providing, as they do, some insight into the twisted world the bomber lives in. You'll also be treated to some interesting insights into the secret world of bomb technicians, together with a few roller-coaster twists and turns, as Starkey struggles to locate and trap Mr. Red before he kills the people closest to her.
And speaking of Starkey, credit must go to Crais for creating such a memorable heroine; this hard-nosed, sassy lady is, by far, the star attraction of "Demolition Angel", and Crais does a great job of portraying both her struggle with alcoholism, and her growing attraction to Pell. Hopefully, we'll see her again in a future novel - but in the meanwhile, you should get to the store and procure a copy before they run out.This article was first published on 10 Jan 2001.