“Without thinking further, Diaz lifted his left leg and scrambled over the jersey wall. There were only a couple of feet between the curved concrete of the wall and the solid white line of the shoulder. He hewed to the wet, narrow space, absorbed the rush of air from passing cars time and again, ignored their occasional horns.
This was crazy he knew. But the feeling! It made him high – as high as any drug – and as he walked abreast of danger, all of his worries melted in the intensity.”
Around the majestic city of New York, the home of Lady Liberty, bombs are most certainly bursting in air and giving fright to the citizens as well as presenting a puzzling challenge to New York Police Department and its resident Bomb Squad. Army veterans are found blown to pieces within a close proximity of the local Armed Forces Recruitment Centres and the police are left perplexed as to the motive for the wanton destruction. Is it suicide due to complications from post traumatic stress disorder? Or is it a terrorist act in response to the lack of therapy made available to honourably discharged war veterans? Or is there something else that no one is even thinking about? Along with the constant bomb threats in and around the city, there is a severe flu outbreak that is crippling the police force taking eight of their officers including the Lieutenant, leaving the patience of remaining officers wearing thin.
Manuel Diaz has served three terms in the United States Armed Forces on the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and has recently been hired by the Bomb Squad as a Junior Detective to fulfill the role of sweeper. Although he has only been on the job for eleven months Manny is somewhat of a renegade that uses intuition before by-the-book procedures when it comes to defusing explosives. This tends to get himself into trouble, but his experiences during the war in Iraq cannot be denied and his gung-ho approach may end up killing himself or more importantly others if he doesn’t learn how to better manage his intensity. The general rule of thumb is that within the first twenty four months on the job as a bomb technician, they are perceived to be a danger to himself and others because a little bit of knowledge can end in a lot of tragedies along the way. In an occupation where on-the-job training can mean catastrophic events, it is up to Manny to mentally assess and progress to a state expected of bomb technicians.
“He knew when the violence started that you were no longer fighting for abstract concepts like patriotism or freedom. You fought to save yourself and the soldiers in your unit, and maybe not even in that order, because the only thing worse than having imagine your own end was feeling responsible when the other guy went home in a body bag.”
Because of his past service in the military, Sergeant Supervisor Sander Kahn believes Manny is using some sort of a halo effect when determining the motive for the bombings. From Manny’s point of view, subjectively he can not fathom the thought of a person who served their country would threaten the lives of their countrymen regardless of the mental state that they were in, objectively Kahn sees no other way. Together they will have to get to the root of the problem. Can proper procedure tame the wild beast within? Or will drastic times call for drastic measures?
A thoroughly researched novel into the inner workings of the bomb squad department of the New York Police Department. It really delves into historic aspects of bomb construction and the evolution over recent history and a scary view of things to come. I personally enjoyed how the author showed how life can exhibit such irreverence to what is going on in a person’s occupational life and their personal life and how problems can still arise that are simply out of your control. From home problems, addiction problems, taking the pressures of the job home with you, the unpredictability of mother nature, increased workplace responsibility, progressive flu epidemics… We have to remember that in spite of maintaining a home/work balance, complexities in life still befall us whether we like it or not. This is quite the page turner with a tortured protagonist and a tortured antagonist at the centre of the novel. I recommend this novel to anyone looking for an entertaining read from start to finish.
“As he stood up near the wall, he thought of his walk on the shoulder of the parkway, of how the vacuum created by a passing car might suck you into the path of the next one. He felt the same now. Life meant not giving into the gravitational pull, resisting the force that drew you.”