Top positive review
5.0 out of 5 starsCarol Starkey is a detective. She's also a drunk.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 29, 2003
The books of Robert Crais are a revelation in series mystery/thrillers. Friends recommended his satirical, well-sketched detective, Elvis Cole to me some months ago. It took me a little while to speed through the eight novels that feature Cole and his mystery partner, Joe Pike, and I couldn't wait for more! Crais departed from his success with Cole to write two non-series novels in recent years. Each featured a different main character ("Demolition Angel" and "Hostage"). Many novelists fail in their attempts to develop beyond a one-dimensional character focus, because their fans won't let them. Following the path that Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben have set, Crais proves to be the master at proving that he can create multiple marvelous story lines. The two "nonseries" novels met with critical acclaim and quickly hit best seller status. Of the two, I much prefer "Demolition Angel".
Carol Starkey is the disenfranchised heroine of the book. Starkey is one of a rare breed of "bomb squad" cops who treat bombs like sophisticated puzzles. We join Starkey (now off the bomb squad) several years after her lover had died in a freak accident; a minor earthquake set off a bomb that Starkey and Sugar are trying to assess and defuse. Starkey died that day, as well, but they somehow revived her. She's not sure that was a good thing. Since the accident, Starkey's been a walking disaster area; subsisting on Tagamet, coffee and cigarettes, her failures at therapy and her unwillingness to form any meaningful relationships are destroying her energy, in the same way that liquor is destroying her career. Starkey is a drunk.
Another squad technician, Charles Riggio, is fatally blown up by an explosive device as the novel opens. The device bears the signature of madman bomber "Mr. Red". The reader is allowed to spend some time exploring the theory before being introduced to Mr. Red, himself. Complicating the search for the bomber, and toying with Starkey's emotions, is an ATF agent, Jack Pell, who's an expert on Mr. Red.
It's Starkey's case. Solving it will cause her to relive the most horrible day of her life. Many of the leads she turns up are false, and it seems that even Pell wants her to take the easy way out in solving a series of explosions that are devastating the landscape. The powerful story of how Carol Starkey breaks through the pain to follow her instincts without losing her life, will haunt you for days, once the tale is finished.
An excellent introduction to Crais that will make you want to get involved with Elvis Cole, as well!
One of his best, and that's saying a lot!