Robert K. Tanenbaum
Atria, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
had heard of Robert Tanenbaum through my father who has been a fan since the beginning of the series, but somehow had not got around to his novels - to my great regret now that I have read
. This thriller has it all - courtroom drama, serial killers, terrorist attacks, a spiritual dimension, social commentary, and riveting family drama - knotted together by a plot master.
he stars are ADA Butch Karp, who believes in law and order, and his lawless (but well loved) wife Marlene Ciampi, a one-eyed ruthless pirate of a woman. Daughter Lucy is a genius at languages (fluent in fifty) and a practical saint, who sees visions of St. Theresa of Avila, and perceives her parents as '
crusaders against the dark forces
', each in their own way. Last but never least are twin sons - the saintly Giancarlo (semi-blinded in
) and his violent (he takes after his mom) protector Zak.
tirring the plot is a radical Islamic fundamentalist who has a trustee position in the infirmary of Auburn Prison, where Felix Tighe (put away by Butch Karp many episodes ago) is serving his sentence. Using his position, the
organizes Tighe's escape by faking his death, and sends him to help a terrorist team acquire bomb materials and then bomb selected targets. Of course, Tighe has his own agenda, and executes his own vengeance against those who put him in jail. His relationship with his new colleagues is one of cross and triple-cross.
n the meantime, Marlene '
thinks she's toxic, cursed of God, a danger to her family.
' She's been in retreat with her guard dog mastiffs at her Long Island farmhouse and is only reluctantly pulled back into town by the death of an old friend. After a bombing takes out a colleague, Karp is assigned the task of prosecuting a controversial case of police brutality, in which an innocent man was shot. In contrast to this, a major sub-theme in the book speaks of politics pushing ahead flaky cases - in particular two false rape accusations made by members of visible minorities.
eeping the tension tight is the fact that Tighe is stalking Lucy. She immediately recognizes him as a
, but is unaware of his past history with her family. One fascinating extra that Tanenbaum gives his readers is a dissertation on the nature of evil. When a journalist tells Karp that '
no one really believes that anything they do is really evil
', his rejoinder is that '
Everyone knows right and wrong, no matter how much they rationalize it or deny it
' and that Lucy thinks that '
what makes evil evil is the lie.
here is so much to this novel that it's hard to do it justice. Tanenbaum gives us larger than life characters in a gripping story, whose many plot strings pull together into an explosive, edge-of-your-seat ending. Definitely not to be missed!
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