Moving from homicides and sex crimes to Islamic terrorism in his first novel, Law & Order creator Wolf introduces NYPD intelligence officer Jeremy Fisk, who must unravel a tricky bombing plot cooked up by Osama bin Laden before his death.
Fisk, who speaks Arabic and honed his anti-terrorism skills in the Middle East and Europe, works for a post-9/11 agency that functions like a mini-CIA within the police department. He is routinely at odds with the FBI, who in 2009 let an armed Afghan terrorist they were tracking disappear in Manhattan instead of taking him down right away (a sniper's bullet closed the argument). Two years later, a few days before a Fourth of July gala at the new Freedom Tower building at ground zero, five airline passengers and a female flight attendant overcome what appears to be a lone terrorist aiming to crash their plane in New York. Fisk determines the bomber actually acted as a decoy for a Saudi nationalist on the plane who goes missing. A timid American woman who converted to Islam is involved in the lethal scheme, as is a baddie hiding in plain sight. Like Law & Order, this book unfolds crisply and intelligently, with a nice mixture of suspense and social observation. Wolf has fun satirizing the celebrity trappings that greet "The Six," as the five Americans and handsome Swede who thwarted the hijacking are known. Even as they are trotted out for the media as heroes (Matt Lauer interviews them on Today), they are denied their freedom. Wolf has a tendency to telescope the investigative process—Fisk's conclusions come in sudden flurries—and Fisk's budding romance with fourth-generation cop Krina Gersten is undercooked. But Wolf otherwise does a shrewd job of setting the stage for his protagonist's next appearance.
Storytelling pro Wolf knows how to ratchet up tension and sustain it until the end.