Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Demolition Angel by Robert Crais

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Decent enough mystery
Cons: Lead character is an annoying cliché
The Bottom Line:
A murder by bomb
Gives us clichéd character
In average book

Takes Its Time Building to an Explosive Climax

Before diving into Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole and Joe Pike mysteries, I’d read or listened to all of his stand alones except one – Demolition Angel.  When I started actually listening to his series, I decided to save this one until I hit it in publication order.  I was curious since I’d heard such good things about it.  For me, this one really had to grow on me.

Before we go further, I do have a confession to make – I listened to an abridgement of the book.  I hadn’t paid attention until I got it from the library.  In my defense, it was the only audio version that either library system I have access to have available.  I honestly don’t think that factors into my opinion, but keep that in mind as you read my review.

This book introduces us to Carol Starkey.  She is a former member of the bomb squad who now works for the LAPD in the Criminal Conspiracy Section, and her latest case is hitting very close to home.  She is tasked with investigating the death by bomb of a member of the bomb squad.  She herself was blown up while on the bomb squad, and she lost her partner and lover in the blast.  She still hasn’t recovered from it emotionally, and that was three years ago.

Carol has barely started her investigation when the ATF shows up in her office announcing they think the bomb was the work of a notorious serial bomber nicknamed Mr. Red.  While fighting to keep control of her case, Carol also begins to investigate the bombing and Mr. Red.  Can she catch this man?

Honestly, I think I’m glad I was listening to an abridgement of this book.  Why?  Because before the first disc was over, I was rolling my eyes at Carol.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  Because of the death of her partner/lover, she has been driven to drink and smoke.  She’s hostile to others and hard to get along with.  Yeah, I was rolling my eyes, too.  Mind you, I’ll read clichés in my cozies without blinking an eye, but this one irritated me.  It didn’t help that Carol herself irritated me.  Her character arc, while predictable, did finally make me warm up to her as the book progressed, but it was late in the book before it happened.  I honestly would have had a very hard time getting through the entire book.

Which leaves the plot.  This at least was interesting as it included several good twists and turns before we reached the climax.  The climax had me hanging on every word even though I knew where it was going to go.

The abridgement is read by Patricia Kalember.  She could do a bit more to make characters distinct, especially when they are just talking with no tags between dialogue, but I was able to follow along with what was happening, so this is a very minor complaint.

The underpinnings of the mystery in Demolition Angel are good, but Carol is so predictable that the book itself winds up just being average.


  1. I agree with most of your points, Mark. But I must say - Demolition Angel - isn't that a great title?

  2. I haven't been tempted to try any of the stand alone novels, sticking to just Cole and Pike. This doesn't sound as good as those.