"TERRIFIC . . . EXPLOSIVE . . . [A] HIGH POWERED THRILL RIDE."
-The Wall Street Journal
"CRAIS IS AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME, and Demolition Angel delivers the goods. With a bang. . . . It's Silence of the Lambs meets Speed as down-on-her-luck former bomb-squad ace Carol Starkey plays cat-and-mouse with a serial bomber. . . . Crais knows how to press all the right buttons in keeping the story line taut and the action, well, explosive."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"GRIPPING . . . CRAIS PILES ON PLOT TWISTS . . . gathering the separate threads at the end and igniting them like a string of fireworks."
"A POWERFUL, SELF-CONTAINED NOVEL OF SUSPENSE that has the compactness, velocity, and effectiveness of a well-aimed bullet . . . This is a thriller that works on every level, a pivotal work from a crime novelist operating at the top of his game."
-Los Angeles Times
"FASCINATING AND FRIGHTENINGLY BELIEVABLE . . . Starkey is one of the toughest characters to grace the crowded field of thriller books in a long time."
Acclaimed for his Elvis Cole mystery series (L.A. Requiem, etc.), Crais deserves further garlands for this stand-alone crime novel. The book features one of the most complex heroines to grace a thriller since Clarice Starling locked eyes with Hannibal Lecter, a deliciously spooky villain in the person of a mad bomber known as Mr. Red, and an aggressively involving plot. Carol Starkey was a rising light in the LAPD Bomb Squad until, two years back, a bomb blew up in her face, maiming her and killing her lover/partner. Now Carol's a bitter, chain-smoking alcoholic with the LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Section, who gets drawn into a literally explosive conspiracy when a bomb kills Charlie Riggio, one of her former bomb squad colleagues. Forensic evidence points toward the bomb being the work of John Michael Fowles, aka Mr. Red, a coldhearted young bomber-assassin-for-hire and master of disguise. Much of the narrative concerns Carol's pursuit of him, most excitingly on the Net through a secret mad-bombers' site, aided by a saturnine federal (ATF) agent, Jack Pell. Intercut are scenes of Mr. Red's various mad plottings, which take a hairpin turn when he learns that the cops think he killed Riggio: for in fact he didn't. That murder pans out as a copycat crime for personal gain, and now Carol must pursue both Riggio's killer and Mr. Red, who in turn has taken an intimate interest in this bomb-savvy female cop. The subsequent pas de deux between Carol and Mr. Red is too reminiscent of the dance between Starling and Lecter, but otherwise this novel gets high marks for originality, and even higher ones for suspense and, above all, for multidimensional, wounded characters who give all the excitement a rare depth. BOMC and Literary Guild featured selection; Mystery Guild main selection; author tour; film rights sold to Columbia/Tri-Star. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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July 01, 2001
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Excerpt from Demolition Angel by Robert Crais
PROLOGUE To be disrupted: when the human body is blown apart; as by the pressure force of a bomb. —Gradwohl’s Legal Medicine Code Three Roll Out Bomb Squad Silver Lake, California Charlie Riggio stared at the cardboard box sitting beside the Dumpster. It was a Jolly Green Giant box, with what appeared to be a crumpled brown paper bag sticking up through the top. The box was stamped green beans. Neither Riggio nor the two uniformed officers with him approached closer than the corner of the strip mall there on Sunset Boulevard; they could see the box fine from where they were. “How long has it been there?” One of the Adam car officers, a Filipino named Ruiz, checked his watch. “We got our dispatch about two hours ago. We been here since.” “Find anyone who saw how it got there?” “Oh, no, dude. Nobody.” The other officer, a black guy named Mason, nodded. “Ruiz is the one saw it. He went over and looked in the bag, the crazy Flip.” “So tell me what you saw.” “I told your sergeant.” “Tell me. I’m the sonofabitch who’s gonna approach the damned thing.” Ruiz described seeing the capped ends of two galvanized pipes taped together with silver duct tape. The pipes were loosely wrapped in newspaper, Ruiz said, so he had only seen the ends. Riggio considered that. They were standing in a strip mall on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, an area that had seen increasing gang activity in recent months. Gangbangers would steal galvanized pipe from construction sites or dig up plastic PVC from some poor bastard’s garden, then stuff them with bottle rocket powder or match heads. Riggio didn’t know if the Green Giant box held an actual bomb or not, but he had to approach it as if it did. That’s the way it was with bomb calls. Better than ninety-five percent turned out to be hairspray cans, some teenager’s book bag, or, like his most recent call-out, two pounds of marijuana wrapped in Pampers. Only one out of a hundred was what the bomb techs called an “improvised munition.” A homemade bomb. “You hear ticking or anything like that?” “No.” “Smell anything burning?” “Uh-uh.” “Did you open the bag to get a better look?” “Hell, no.” “Did you move the box or anything?” Ruiz smiled like Riggio was nuts. “Dude, I saw those pipes and shit my pants. The only thing I moved was my feet!” Mason laughed. Riggio walked back to his vehicle. The Bomb Squad drove dark blue Suburbans, rigged with a light bar, and crammed with all the tools of the bomb technician’s trade, except for the robots. You wanted the robots, you had to call them out special, and he wasn’t going to do that. The goddamned robot would just get bogged down in all the potholes around the box. Riggio found his supervisor, Buck Daggett, instructing a uniformed sergeant to evacuate the area for a hundred yards in all directions. The fire department had already been called, and paramedics were on the way. Sunset Boulevard had been closed, and traffic rerouted. All for something that might turn out to be some do-it-yourself plumber’s castoff drain trap. “Hey, Buck, I’m ready to take a look at that thing.” “I want you in the suit.” “It’s too hot. I’ll use the chest protector for the first pass, then the suit if I have to bring out the de-armer.” All Riggio woul