Justin’s #20 – Final Seconds, John Lutz and David August, 316 pages

As many of you who read my posts may know, I don’t really read much fiction. I prefer non-fiction greatly over fiction. But after I listened to “A Confederacy of Dunces” for a second time this year, I scoured audible and audiobooks.com for audiobooks by probably my most favorite narrator in the audiobook world: Barrett Whitener. If you’ve never heard of him, go look him up and pick up one of his books. They are amazing. That’s what led me to Final Seconds. I thought the premise of the book looked intriguing and I am already low on fiction novels this year so I thought I could knock out a quick one in between what I’m reading now.

 

Note: this review contains a few spoilers, but nothing that will spoil the ending.

Final Seconds is focused on a former NYPD bomb squad agent (is that what they are called?), Will Harper. At the beginning of the book, Harper and partner Fahey find a bomb at a high school and Harper has his right hand blown off. Spending time in retirement, Harper visits Fahey who is working for a Tom Clancy-like author in Florida. Upon Harper’s departure, a bomb kills Fahey and the author. This project’s Harper onto an investigation. His old NYPD buddies refuse to help him, the FBI closes the case, and no one will take the threat seriously except one disgraced FBI agent living in Philadelphia. Harper and Addleman begin working on the case to discover that resolved bombing cases in the past seem to be connected. And the chase is on. The book is full of twists and turns as the plot thickens. There is a countdown to May 15th when the bomber will kill a massive amount of people in his sick game, and Harper and Addleman have to work quickly before more lives are killed by the man who becomes known as the “celebrity bomber.”

I really enjoyed this book, as it gave me a chance to recover from some of the heavier literature I’ve been reading. Here are some themes I found throughout this book:

  1. More than anything, I think one of the major themes from this book is the idea to do what is right even when it is unpopular. Harper and Addleman run into roadblock after roadblock as the FBI refuses to help them. Knowing that this is the right thing to do, Harper and Addleman continue to pursue a course of action that will save lives. There are some unfortunate points along the way, but their spirit never diminishes. They continue on doing the right thing not because it’s popular, but simply because they have the tools and knowledge that will allow them to bring justice upon a deranged man.
  2. I think there is also a pervasive theme of the incompetence of bureaucracy. Addleman has connections in the FBI and he and Harper try to bring their case to them and yet, it gets blundered time and time again. Their refusal to help them makes things more difficult. In addition, their obstinance in proving Harper wrong puts more lives at danger. It seems like the main reasons why people refuse to help them is because it will hurt future promotions. I unfortunately know about this all too well, working for the Federal Government. Sometimes an easy solution is bogged down by a process or a signature that prevents things from getting done. It’s a difficult situation and yet, both men are able to overcome some of the incompetency.
  3. As I explained, Harper was a former member of the NYPD bomb squad. Everyday he carries around a memorial to the service to that unit in the form of his disfigured hand. I think there is something to be said about members of the police force, firefighters, members of the armed services, and others who sacrifice so much by placing themselves in the line of danger. There is an appreciation for these people that sometimes we don’t always recognize because it is so much unnatural from our every day way of life. Even after Harper is off the squad, he demonstrates his willingness to perhaps sacrifice his life to bring the celebrity bomber to justice. This is a virtue that can be appreciated and emulated.

If you like a fast paced novel with lots of twists and turns, I’d recommend this thriller.

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