Black Friday by Alex Kava

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Black Friday by Alex Kava

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Maggie O'Dell, mourning the death of her boss and mentor, A.D. Cunningham, must put her troubles aside to help figure out how and why a bunch of college students might want to blow up a shopping complex on the busiest shopping day of the year. Then the search becomes personal.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: October 2009
Publisher: MIRA
ISBN: 978-0778303329

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There is no reason to be suspicious of the college kids wandering around Mall of America on the busiest shopping day of the year. They look just like everyone else. But in fact these kids are actually up to serious mischief: they think the jamming devices they are carrying in their identical red backpacks will disrupt the greedy capitalist stores' computer systems, causing delays and a big dip in sales. The truth is, if they had been aware that said identical red backpacks were actually stuffed with enough explosives to knock the Earth off its axis and that in fact, a remote control device would turn them each into suicide bombers, perhaps they would not have got out of bed that day?

Maggie O'Dell, super FBI profiler extraordinaire is grieving for her former boss, the responsibility for death of whom has somehow bizarrely been laid at her feet by his replacement, the vindictive A.D. Kunze. And so with more at stake than ever, Maggie is flown to the site of the attack to try and figure out what is going on.

A review of the cctv footage raises the stakes further still when Maggie discovers that her half-brother, Patrick, is among the group of college kids that have allegedly carried out the bombing. The clock is really ticking this time and Maggie is under the microscope. First, she has got to find out if Patrick has survived the bombing and, if so, how exactly she might find him. Secondly, what the Hell is Patrick doing mixed up in something like this and what can he tell her about what has happened?

The six novels that feature the FBI profiler, Maggie O'Dell are, not to put too fine a point on it, massive best sellers in every country you can name. Kava knows how to find a sensitive issue and poke it with a stick in a clever, well-composed way, delivering a simply superb ending – by way of a quasi-epilogue – that ladles out justice like the well-known dish that is best served cold.

I could not help but spot Kava's tongue which appeared, to me, to be clearly and firmly pocketed in cheek in the references to the US government's view/treatment of similar such atrocities and I must tell you I stand to applaud. Personal viewpoint coming up: Terrorist attacks/activities seem to be written about widely (a current writers' fave) and, by and large, tend towards ill-informed with the central plot's big finger pointing in many a wrong direction. I took great delight in the savage twist at the end of Black Friday because up until almost the very end, I had consigned Kava to the ranks of the uneducated and gratuitously naïve about such things – and having been around long enough and experiencing (though thankfully not at close range) many a terrorist bombing campaign through the last thirty years or so, I feel justified in saying so. Joyfully, I hold up my hands in erroneous glee. Kava has knocked this one out of the park.

A final note of explanation about the number of stars I have awarded to Black Friday – 4 and not 5 - is simply because of two smallish things: the first was the phrase homicide bomber – I found it irksome. The second was that actually, the book was about thirty pages too short. There was a huge leap in the plot towards the closing chapters that left too large a gap in the story. Cinematically, that kind of jump works because it is visual, but I find in a novel, you have to sit there and write it down. I appreciate I am being picky, but Exposed was a great story and as a follow up, Black Friday is very slightly lacking.

Apart from those two teeny weeny things, I have to wholeheartedly recommend you read Black Friday and pretty much everything else Kava has written. If Black Friday appeals you may want to look at Alex Kava's previous novel, Exposed. Similarly, Blind Rage by Terri Persons is a terrific high octane FBI thriller and we at Bookbag can highly recommend it.

Lastly, a big thank you to the boys and girls at Mira books for sending this copy to Bookbag for review.

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