Michael Connelly could teach Dan Brown ten thousand things about how to write a technology thriller. The Scarecrow deals with a lot of the same kinds of technological encryption and security issues that some of Dan Browns books do but it does it in a believable manner. One that actually makes sense — and is completely absent of hot silicon fireballs.
This is the second book featuring Jack MacAvoy, the journalist who featured in The Poet. As with the previous book I entered into it with a great deal of skepticism about the premise. A journalist as the cover for a super hero is just fine but a journalist trying to get the scoop on the latest serial killer story couldn’t possibly be interesting unless it throws reality to the wind. Throwing reality to the wind can work under some circumstances but when I’m reading a mystery I expect it to at least be real enough to fool me.
I am happy to say that The Scarecrow was not only realistic enough to keep me from noticing, but it was also an edge of the seat thrill ride.
Some of Connelly’s books are better than others, that goes without saying, but I have yet to find one that wasn’t good. He’s got something figured out. There’s an obvious formula involved in his stories like most crime fiction. The trick is in Connelly’s proficiency with his authorial sleight of hand. He pulls off the formula so smoothly and quickly, twisting and tweaking it in each book so that I don’t see it until after the book is over. At that point, it doesn’t matter anymore.
In The Scarecrow Jack loses his job, he has two weeks to clean out his desk and go home. In a last effort to stick it to the man he sets out to write what he thinks will be a Pullitzer Prize winning article about a young gangster falsely accused of murder. What he finds is a trail of bodies halfway across the United States, each one with a falsely accused suspect, each one fitting the same modus operandi.
The FBI gets involved and Jack gets shoved into the middle of an investigation into the coldest, smartest criminal mind in the last century at least.
The Scarecrow is gripping, thrilling, exciting, powerful and at times terrifying. In short it’s just another Michael Connelly novel.