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Book Review: Demolition Angel by Robert Crais

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Robert Crais, along with George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly, is part of a new generation of crime writers that are sometimes as good as older masters like Robert Parker and Donald Westlake but sometimes miss the mark. The vocabulary and situations in their books are sometimes more modern, but attempts to be more hip sometimes fall flat.

I mention this because this book by Crais encounters some of those problems, although it could be just a matter of the book, published in 2000, not dating well. Unlike his better books featuring Elvis Cole, a private eye, this one is about Carol Starkey, a detective in a case in which a bomb technician was blown up. Starkey herself had been almost killed&#8212and her lover was killed&#8212when a bomb they worked together as part of a bomb squad blew up due to&#8212get this&#8212a California earthquake.

Now Starkey, who, of course, has a drinking problem, has to face down her past as she tries to solve the case.

The story has a few surprises and twists, but is way too predictable overall.

A subplot involving a Web site and chat room where bombers and bomb enthusiasts congregate rubbed this reviewer the wrong way, since it just seemed so implausible that a detective and a serial bomber would sit online chatting to each other.

Overall, the book is a good thriller, as long as you can stifle the urge to guess what you think will happen next.

I give it a 7.
Edited: PC

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.
  • Hey Scott, you said it. Another writer, F. Paul Wilson, who isn’t really a crime writer per se, but his Repairman Jack series is sometimes straight crime, but more often supernatural investigative mysteries, also has the same problem. He just can’t get hip hop patter down on the page convincingly, even though it looks so right, it doesn’t sound right. On the other hand, George Pelecanos gets his patter, be it Hispanic, African American, or whatsyourslang so damn Right as Rain every time out of the box.

  • I’ll have to try him out.
    I think Pelecanos and Lehane have tons of potential but can be uneven at times. But if they can write like this now imagine how they’ll be in 10 or 20 years!

  • Scott Butki

    Has anyone read his new book?