Finding whoever’s responsible for bombings in Atlanta takes an FBI consultant into a conspiracy entailing terrorism, murder, and kidnapping in Sullivan’s (Sheaves of Zion, 2013) thriller.
Detective Marmaduke of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and Detective Rome of the Atlanta Police Department’s Major Crimes are each working a crime scene on the same night. He’s looking into a bombing at an animal shelter, while she’s investigating a rape. The cases are already linked by criminal psychologist Dr. Thelonious Zones, whose attempt to stop the rape was thwarted when the explosion threw him into the air. But a body found at the shelter leads Marmaduke to a suspect: Dr. Amal El-Arabi, the victim’s father and a specialist in nanoscience. Further bombings, however, only widen the suspect pool, so the FBI calls in Zones for a profile on the prospective bomber (or bombers). The doctor’s currently searching for answers regarding mom Cleopatra’s murder from 24 years earlier, for which his father, T.O., is currently serving 30 years to life. It gets even more complicated: a gun found at the second bombing, a language research center, somehow has Cleo’s prints on it. Zones, Marmaduke, and Rome spin various theories, from a Middle Eastern terrorist behind the bombings to a possible Department of Defense coverup. And something must have agitated the baddies, as someone’s mysteriously missing and Zones could become a target for a bomb—intentionally, this time. The author’s initially convoluted plot is staggeringly concise, despite nearly 500 pages. Such a length proves
necessary so that Zones can adequately map out the plethora of connections and potential bombers/killers. His meticulous examination of a sundry of evidence, along with the occasional recap, ensures that the story’s never confounding. There’s definitely a red herring or two but not as many as readers may expect. The sometimes-insolent but likable Marmaduke and shrewd Rome are noteworthy, but Zones is unparalleled. He’s generally pragmatic but with a tinge of bitterness giving him an edge. When a zealot, for instance, speaks of winning a speculative war (“By the will of Allah, we will”), the candid Zones responds, “By the U.S. military, you won’t.”
A poised, diligent protagonist guides readers through a dizzying array of dubious characters and hypotheticals.