Scott Frost, Author . Putnam $19.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-15248-1

Pasadena bomb squad detective Dylan Harrison describes the man who's just blown up Lt. Alex Delillo's partner: "He's very skilled, very dangerous, and he enjoys his work." It's an apt, if understated, description, as Frost proves in this chilling debut novel about a serial-killer bomber who plans to demonstrate his incendiary powers on live TV during the annual Pasadena Rose Parade. Alex is a single mom whose feisty teenage daughter, Lacy, is captured by the bomber early on and used as bait to lead partners Alex and Harrison from one gruesome killing to the next. Alex sees herself as a failure as a mother, a fact she bemoans too often, and Harrison bears the burden of a murdered wife whose killer has never been caught, giving the two plenty of tragic backstory to engage reader sympathy. Frost's screenwriting roots (Twin Peaks ; The X-Files ) provide a solid background as he expertly shows rather than tells how the brainy bomber outwits his pursuers. All too often, savvy mystery readers guess what's going on way too early, but that won't happen here. The bomber is not only ahead of the police, he's just as far ahead of the reader. This, the first in a series, is a jaw-dropper that will leave readers clamoring for more. Agent, Elaine Koster. (Jan.)

Forecast: Despite a terrible title, this novel should be a hit if Putnam can get the word out.

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
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