Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly ****

Reprising their roles in The Poet, LA Times Reporter Jack McEvoy and FBI agent Rachel Walling pursue The Scarecrow, a combination genius computer hacker from MIT and sadistic serial killer. Mirroring current events, Jack has been laid-off due to competition from the Internet. When he uncovers this serial-killer story, he sees it as his best and final chance for a Pulitzer Prize. However events conspire against him, as he repeatedly becomes part of the story and thus disqualified from being the reporter.

While Michael Connelly delivers modicum of jeopardy and action, the story is basically whodunit, where much of the narrative revolves around the back and forth as Jack and Rachel try to figure out the Scarecrow, and he, in turn, leads them astray.

This is a cat-and-mouse mystery with considerable less violence than the subject of sexually-motivated torture and murder might suggest. All the worst violence discussed post facto and not shown.

Final note: As a supporter of MIT, I'm always glad to see the school's graduates portrayed as extraordinary intellects, though I regret the evil genius role. However, I recall the PR adage: "There is no such thing as bad publicity."

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