Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Black Friday - Alex Kava

On the busiest shopping day of the year, idealistic students wade into malls across America carrying concealed devices they believe will cause chaos at the checkouts. But at the nation's largest shopping center, the results are incendiary - and people lie dead. A white-collar lobby group called Citizens for American Pride takes responsibility for the protest action, calling for an end to cheap, foreign-made goods and exported manufacturing jobs. But they insist the bombing was the work of rogue members, zealots who took the message too far. As Maggie and her partner sift through both the debris and the facts of the case, they uncover paranoia, racism and a sinister secret agenda that extends to the CAPs highest ranks. As retailers count down to Christmas Eve, Maggie knows that infiltration is the only option, even though the cost could be huge. And if they fail, more innocent people will pay with their lives.

One of the things that really made me enjoy Kava's last book was that it dealt with a real current threat, bioterrorism. In this one I really enjoyed that once again she picks on current subjects and worries as counter terrorism policies.

The main event is a terrorist attack on the busiest day of the year in America's biggest mall. Maggie and her new boss are called to investigate and soon it's obvious that all is not what it seems concerning who the perpetrators really are. Maggie is still adjusting to the fact that her previous boss - Cunningham - is now dead and that the new one doesn't like her, when she meets Nick Morrelli again, working as for the mall's security company.

Kava mentions several real terrorist attacks in the plot, especially the Oklahoma City bombing that she links to one of the bombers in this story. I'm sure an American audience would have a stronger reaction to this than me who only knew about the man convicted of it. But it still made me think that something like this may well happen in our world, which is a scary thought.

The case gets a bit personal for Maggie because, not only Nick is involved but, one of the bombers is identified has her half brother. I did, however, not like what she did with Nick. He seems to be losing its place in the series but she didn't need to write him as a weaker character for which Maggie doesn't seem to have much professional respect. And the half brother involvement seemed like too much of a coincidence, an excuse to start a relationship between them.

This is a "race against time" type of story, after the mall bombing Maggie and her colleagues discover that a new bombing is planned for a couple of days later in an airport. All their investigative skills are used to discover where and stop it. However I didn't feel the kind of urgency I was hoping to feel while they run around trying to find the clues and solve the case. While the idea behind it seemed great, the story starts to lose its pace as the end approaches and, when I finished it I wasn't totally convinced by its resolution, who the villains were and why they were doing it. I am also not convinced by what she did with the Maggie and Nick relationship.

I still liked the book, now I'm worrying that my review is too harsh, but it definitely didn't feel like one of her best.

Grade: 4/5

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