Mysterious Press, $26.00, 372 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-2748-8
One way to judge the character of a hero is by assessing the nature of his or her adversary. The wickeder the villain, the more courageous the protagonist will appear to be, because conflict creates drama, and it is the following sequence of events . . . emotional, turbulent or tragic . . . which keeps readers turning the pages. We’ve gotta see what comes next because all humans are curious and emotional. Now, one of Americas most psychologically astute thriller writers has come up with a novel that covers all of the above, and then some.
The Bomb Maker, by Thomas Perry has the reader looking over the shoulder of one of the most diabolic, evil, uncaring, solipsistic and murderous characters to come skulking down the pages of a novel since Hannibal Lecter scared the bejezus out of all of us. He’s known simply as the Bomb Maker and his stated goal is to kill every member of the Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad. When a bomb call is made in the first chapter of the novel, the LAPD responds to the threat, which soon evolves at 27,000 feet per second into a world-class tragedy. That’s when the deputy chief of police calls upon the retired former leader of the bomb squad to come back to work on an interim basis in order to help rebuild the department. The heroes name is Dick Stahl. He’s been running his own security consulting firm and has just returned from a life-threatening mission in Mexico. His sense of obligation to the members of the bomb squad that he’s tutored and mentored as captain overcomes his reluctance to get involved, and Stahl agrees to step in as the temporary commander. The frequencies of the calls, and the sophistication of the trigger mechanisms convince him that this is no ordinary malcontent building amateurish, unreliable, simplistic devices. The bombs are massive, complex and deadly—the work of a brilliant, though demented mind—and they’re coming with increasing persistence because the bomb maker is being pressured by his terrorist backers who want ever bigger bombs as they ramp up to an unknown doomsday scenario. At the same time, Dick Stahl runs afoul of departmental policies and gets caught in the crosshairs of public opinion, due to the twenty-four hour news cycle in this hair-raising, propulsive and electrifying novel from the pen of America’s best thriller writer. It’ll keep you reading and thinking about it long after the last page is turned. Thomas Perry is at the top of his game in The Bomb Maker!