This masterful novel is told primarily from the p.o.v. of Stahl and the eponymous killer himself, and the reader sees through the eyes of the latter in a very unsettling manner. His hatred of the Bomb Squad and its members, and of Stahl in particular, is clear, and his brilliance at what he does is also clear. He thinks of himself, rightly, as a “person who killed unseen and from a safe distance. All bombs came from a small, scheming, self-protective part of the mind. . . No bomb came from bravery. At most, bombs were cunning or imaginative, cleverly disguised as something harmless – or even appealing. . . Bombs were acts of murder, but they were also jokes on you, riddles the bomber hoped were too tough for you, chances for you to pick wrong when it was almost impossible to pick right. . . Only one day ago he had killed half the LA Bomb Squad. He’d accomplished the largest police kill-off in history.” That alone is the biggest part of his motivation. And he keeps getting closer to his major target: Stahl and anyone close to him. Other than that, there seems to be no pattern to the placement of his fiendishly clever devices, which one must admit, with a shudder, are brilliant. As Stahl says, “Bombs are crude, brutal weapons. What’s complex is the deception, using people’s mental habits against them.” And we see just how accurate is that assumption on Stahl’s part It was also upsetting that Stahl gets a text giving the final score of a baseball game in which the Dodgers beat the Mets – but that’s probably just me. The reader gets to know much more than one would perhaps want to know about the bomb maker – married but now divorced [something he has in common with Stahl], with parents who didn’t like him much and “were not enthusiastic supporters of the marriage.”
Stahl, and his squad, seem to be equally brilliant, all with over a decade working with bombs, with most of them having been LA cops or federal agents before that. In an eerily prescient plot line, there is some question about the propriety of the relationship between Stahl and a female sergeant on his team. Equally prescient is the plot line about background checks on people buying guns and rifles, and the ease with which they are purchased by members of the public from licensed dealers across the country. The suspense grows steadily as the book nears its end, and that end is very satisfactorily wrapped up by this author. The book is highly recommended.