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The Bomb Maker


The Bomb Maker

THE BOMB MAKER will feed your inner paranoia, even if it is securely enclosed in a lockbox deep within your psyche. Thomas Perry, who has demonstrated time and time again over the course of a 35-year career that he is incapable of writing badly, pulls out whatever (invisible) stops he may have had and lets it all flow on this one, from first page to last. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop --- which is just as well, given that you’ll be afraid to leave your house.

The basic, rock-bottom foundation of THE BOMB MAKER is that it pits two antagonists against each other. The first one we meet is the bomb maker himself, who is chilling in his matter-of-fact approach to killing through the deliberate application of explosive devices. Perry makes him even more frightening by giving the man (we never learn his name) an expert level of competency regarding his ability to make his devices a puzzle and a dilemma to defuse, with layers upon layers of disguised defenses.

"THE BOMB MAKER will feed your inner paranoia, even if it is securely enclosed in a lockbox deep within your psyche."

The second antagonist is Dick Stahl, a former Bomb Squad commander for the LAPD. Stahl, when first introduced, is well into middle age and running his own high-priced private security agency when he is approached by the LAPD to come back into the fold. The reason is that the bomb maker had successfully drawn in and then executed half of the LAPD’s bomb team. Stahl immediately recognizes the problem and begins a series of deadly serious Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote vignettes in which the bomb maker lays traps for the bomb unit that Stahl personally attempts to puzzle out and defuse.

Perry obviously went above and beyond his research into high explosives and the manipulation of same, including the various possibilities that exist with respect to disguising bombs as everyday objects. We’re not talking about the classic clock-attached-to-dynamite or car bombs, which is what makes THE BOMB MAKER so frightening. You will think twice before you open a door or pick up a salt shaker (or anything else) after reading this book, which also will cause you to appreciate your first responders in a wholly different way.

In addition, THE BOMB MAKER has a mystery at its core, that being the motivation of the doer. You might think that he doesn’t need one, that he is just operating out where the buses don’t run, and you would be partially right. I mean, what kind of person deliberately does that sort of thing? Perry, though, buries the man’s additional motivation(s) just a step or two below the surface and slowly begins to reveal what’s behind the curtain at around the midway point of the book, making a seemingly perfect thriller even more so, as the entire tale builds up momentum in its second half and races toward an explosive conclusion.

Perry never fails to surprise and entertain, but with THE BOMB MAKER, he raises the suspense level to teeth-grinding. You can actually reach the point where you’ll be afraid to turn the page for learning what occurs next. This is a masterwork by an author who always delivers more than is required or expected.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 5, 2018

The Bomb Maker
by Thomas Perry

  • Publication Date: January 8, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802129234
  • ISBN-13: 9780802129239