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Book Author: A. J. Landau

LEAVE NO TRACE by A. J. Landau: Book Review

Nothing could have been more ordinary in the minutes before the explosion.  A fifteen-year-old boy is trying to get his father’s attention away from his phone and pay attention to him.  Danny is pointing toward the water beyond Liberty Island, home of the Statue of Liberty.  He tells his father that there’s something wrong with the Park Police boat in the harbor, that they no longer use that model.

His father really isn’t interested or sure that Danny knows what he’s talking about.  As his father and mother and younger sister head toward the line that will be going up to Lady Liberty’s crown, Danny walks a few feet away and starts filming the men in what he is certain isn’t a police boat.  He sees one of the men on that boat filming him instead of paying attention to the crowd.  That’s when the blast blows the teenager off his feet and kills at least a thousand people waiting to get to the top of the statue, including Danny’s family.

The seeds of the explosion that shook Liberty Island were sown in 1988.  That’s when the U. S. Government took, by eminent domain, ten acres that had been part of the small town of Ashford, Washington, and incorporated them into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  Eleven of the property owners who had lived there left, albeit unwillingly, but one family remained, holed up in the farmhouse that had been in their family for generations.

In a scenario eerily similar to the one that occurred in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, federal troops eventually massed in front of the family’s home, shutting down their electricity and water in an attempt to force them to leave.  The mother, brother, and sister of the family were finally persuaded/forced to leave, and then a sniper’s bullet shattered a window and killed the head of the Hobbs family.  Now, years later, Ferris Hobbs, who goes by his new name of Jeremiah, is leading a force to avenge his father’s death and wreak havoc on the institution that caused it.

A number of federal agencies are working together in the aftermath of the Liberty Island explosion, and the two main protagonists in Leave No Trace come from different ones.  Michael Walker is a member of the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch, and he has recently returned to active duty after a shootout three and half years ago that killed his wife, another Park Service ranger, and cost him his left foot.

Gina Delgado, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, is an explosive experts.  Even as a young child she was fascinated by “things that go bang,” and her military duty has made her an expert.  Along with the help of others in their respective bureaus, they must work together to prevent what they are certain will be another attack on a park or monument under the care and protection of the National Park Service.

A. J. Landau is the pen name of Jon Land, best-selling author of more than fifty books, and Jeff Ayers, reviewer and author.  Together they have crafted a frightening scenario that is all too familiar in our country.  You can read about the writers at various sites on the web.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.