FINAL SECONDS by John & David August Lutz


Email this review


Looking for some relief from the omnipresent headlines about Theodore Kaczynski, Oklahoma City, and the World Trade Center plot? You won't find it in this Mad Bomber tale, which cleverly draws on all these stories and more. A couple of years after an amateurish package of gelignite disfigures his fight hand and gets him pensioned off from the NYPD's bomb disposal unit, ex-Sgt. Will Harper drops in on Jimmy Fahey, the former acolyte who swapped the tension of disarming explosive devices--he was on the scene when Harper got blasted into retirement--for a cushy job running security ops for paranoid, successful thriller author Rod Buckner. Buckner's convinced against all reason that he needs state-of-the-art protection, but none of it protects him against a bomb that goes off just as Harper is leaving the neighborhood. A close shave for Harper--but Harold Addleman, whose alcoholism got him kicked off the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit, is convinced that it's much more besides: It's the work of a serial bomber with a taste for famous targets, like tennis player Tim Sothem and Congresswoman Susan Burton Wylie, and a truly scary ability to learn from his own mistakes. Working with Addleman, Harper painstakingly reconstructs a pattern of 22 deaths he can lay to the Celebrity Bomber, and predicts that the 23rd will be blowhard radio commentator Speed Rogers. But all his warnings aren't enough to get through to megalomaniac Rogers or his high-powered, clueless staff (a bit of partisan malice makes this episode especially stinging), and the bomber chalks up another victory and prepares for his climactic strike in Washington, D.C., home to more famous people than Harper, despite his newfound credibility, can possibly protect. The cat-and-mouse game is expertly routine. But veteran Lutz (Oops!, p. 22, etc.) and pseudonymous August shine in dramatizing the up-and-down power of Harper's own dubious celebrity, which makes him a target for a dozen agendas besides the bomber's.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Kensington