A straight-arrow lawman copes with murder, conspiracy and dating in another of Born’s dandy thrillers (Shock Wave, 2005, etc.).
Around ATF headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., Special Agent Alex Duarte is known as Rocket. Point him toward bad guys, press his start button and he zooms into sleuthing mode. Consider his current case, for instance. At the outset, it seems orthodox enough, if blood-drenched—a bomb, a car, the bottom-feeders inside it blown sky-high. In his signature fashion, then, Rocket sets to work, checking out the who’s and why’s—until the top-notch lawyer from the Department of Justice arrives, altering perspective radically. To begin with, there’s the new information. Far from isolated, it turns out that the Florida bombing is the third in a series, preceded by explosions in the states of Washington and Virginia. In addition, highly placed people in the Department of Justice have an interesting conspiracy theory to explain the events: warring labor organizations seeking victory through intimidation and attrition. All of which Rocket, trained investigator that he is, takes more or less in stride—it’s the lawyer, herself, who defuses Rocket. Caren Larson is blonde, beautiful and instantly drawn to the good-looking special agent, who happens to be so shy that the only female he’s ever been truly comfortable with is his mother. Before long, Caren finds ways to change that. She teaches Rocket to be venturesome. She teaches him a lot about the intricacies of relationships. And, in the process, Rocket learns that dark and secret things can come brightly packaged.
If he ever manages to upgrade his prose—which is serviceable but bland—working-cop Born will rocket to the very top of thrillerdom.