TRAINMAN by P.T. Deutermann


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Another solid performance from Deutermann (Zero Option, 1998, etc.), this time about a train-hating, vengeance-hungry madman and the FBI agents seeking to derail him. At FBI headquarters, they’d begun calling the operation “Trainman,” though at first something with “Bridges” in it would have worked as well, because it looked as if bridges were the target. Spanning the Mississippi, there are only six of them, and when two were blown to bits, the police and the FBI leapt to conclusions understandable enough though wrong. But agents Hush Hanson and Carolyn Lang widened their scope—freight trains had also been demolished. And pretty soon the investigators had reasons to desert another early theory: maybe it wasn’t just terrorist groups they ought to be looking at. Maybe a single terrorist working alone was their target’someone handy with explosives and with a deep grudge that had festered into obsession. Meanwhile, at an army depot in Alabama, another harrowing problem was shaping up. A military train with a mysterious, potentially deadly, increasingly unstable cargo was heading west, for the Mississippi, for one of the bridges likely to be a terrorist’s target. Out in the field, Hanson and Lang have all this heaped on their plates, plus an extra dollop or two from FBI politics. They have enough enemies of their own, highly placed people skilled at the game of backstabbing, to make it difficult to know who to trust—and sometimes even whether they can trust each other. And yet, unmistakably, a feeling seems to be growing between the shy, unsure (in his relationships with women) Hanson and the attractive if somewhat hard-bitten Lang (“Razor-pants” to her detractors). Finally, instead of the bridge it’s the climax of the book that explodes, and most satisfactorily. Quality entertainment: the details convince, the people are real, the plot twists legitimate.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-20375-6
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999


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