Tanenbaum, who clearly has faith in the ability of current headlines to keep fresh material coming, takes on Islamic terrorists in New York and tosses in a home-grown version of the Unabomber.
Despite his psychopathic expertise at manipulation, Felix Tighe, a murderous sex criminal doing a zillion years at Auburn State Prison, isn’t smart enough to wonder why “the Arab,” the chief trustee attendant in the prison infirmary, wants to help him break out under cover of a phony death certificate so that he can help the Arab’s posse outside—Rashid, Carlos, and Felípe—plant the bombs that will bring the city to its knees. While he’s knocking around the city with a hatful of explosives, in fact, Felix sees no reason why he shouldn’t combine business with pleasure by settling a few scores of his own, particularly against chief Assistant District Attorney Butch Karp and his family, back from West Virginia (Absolute Rage, 2002) wounded in body and spirit. After all, even if somebody suspects Felix, he’s dead, right? As Karp and his wife Marlene Ciampi, now living on Long Island and raising protection dogs, go about their usual round of felonies—trying a pair of cops who swear their shooting of a Nigerian street vendor was righteous, taking a closer look at a couple of rape charges under some pretty unlikely circumstances—Felix is wreaking mayhem. This being Tanenbaum country, his opposition includes Karp’s daughter Lucy, linguist and saint; Karp’s twins Giancarlo (a budding street-musician left blind by his West Virginia vacation) and Zak (who doesn’t like to go out without a weapon); and of course Marlene, who would have kept the Twin Towers standing if only she’d been on call on 9/11.
Not much mystery or real suspense, and the epilogue does drag on. But Tanenbaum skates over minor problems like these because his people and plots are more interesting than they have any right to be.