A deadly blast at the Mall of America kicks off the seventh case for FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell (The Soul Catcher, 2002, etc.).
Dixon Lee thinks the backpacks he and two college buddies have been given to carry into America’s largest shopping mall contain electronic circuitry that will jam computer systems and disrupt mercantile commerce on the day after Thanksgiving. The disruption Dixon and his old friend Rebecca Cory miraculously survive actually involves explosives, dozens of dead bodies and a zero-tolerance policy toward unwitting accomplices. Even as Dixon and Rebecca are doing their best to elude a sinister paramedic who wants them dead, the powers that be are bombarding the mall with crime-solving experts. Maggie and her new FBI boss, petty brute Ray Kunze, fly in from D.C. along with Charlie Wurth of Homeland Security. Maggie’s ex-suitor Nick Morrelli, now with United Allied Security, interrupts his holiday weekend to review the mall’s tapes. Meanwhile, Dixon’s grandfather, retired business mogul Henry Lee, sweats to protect his grandson while negotiating with the self-anointed “Project Manager” who planted bombs on the protestors and now plans a second act of post-Thanksgiving terrorism. Kava handles the initial bombing and the ensuing chaos with authority. But as she unwinds layer upon layer of intrigue, much of it involving partisan infighting among politicians and bureaucrats who are supposed to be on the same side, she cuts so rapidly among her cast members, all of them with urgent agendas they’re convinced are at the center or the universe, that you may begin to feel as disoriented as if you were stuck in the Mall of America the day after Thanksgiving. By the time she’s finished linking the fictional terrorist plot to the real-life Oklahoma City bombing, you may wonder exactly who the baddest bad guys are.
A thriller that tails off from its most thrilling scene in chapter one and never makes up its mind what it’s most scared of.