Thomas Perry has produced here another excellent thriller, perfectly suited for reading at the lake on a lazy summer day--or, for that matter, at any other time or place. A very clever bomb maker, who is in league with some shadowy characters that we don't really meet until late in the book, is engaged in a deadly contest with the L.A.P.D.'s bomb squad. As the book opens, he lures a large number of the squad's members into a trap and kills fourteen of them--nearly half the entire squad--with one blow.
With an obviously talented and determined bomber on the loose and with the bomb squad devastated, the department turns to Dick Stahl, who was once perhaps the most gifted member of the squad. Stahl has retired and is now operating a security firm, but given the emergency, he agrees to step in and take over what's left of the squad until permanent replacements can be found.
Stahl realizes immediately that he's up against a very skilled and unique adversary. The bomb maker clearly understands the steps that the bomb squad would take to defuse a device, and so he builds bombs that will tempt the experts to attempt to defuse them by the book. But when they do so, rather than rendering the device harmless, they will set it off, killing themselves and anyone else in the vicinity.
The bomb maker's objective is to wipe out the entire squad, although his motive does not become clear until late in the game. The result is that Stahl and his team members are in deep, deep trouble. While the bomb maker can put together a large number of devices and leave them around town to threaten the population, Stahl and his team can't afford to make even a single tiny mistake and still survive.
Not surprisingly, the tension in this book is about as high as one can imagine, beginning with the first page. It's a deadly game of cat and mouse, and Dick Stahl proves to be a very appealing protagonist. You can't help but hold your breath, every time he gets near one of the bomb makers inventions.
The technical material in the book is very impressive, and Perry obviously did a great deal of research on this subject. I saw him when he appeared at my local bookstore with this book, and it was very interesting to hear him talk about its development and about the work that went into. I've enjoyed virtually all of his earlier novels and this is clearly another winner.