The Terrorist Next Door is Sheldon Siegel's 8th book, but the first one that does not center on Mike Daley and Rosie Fernandez. I enjoyed Sheldon's first 7 books immensely. Mike and Rosie are law partners and ex-spouses. Although they're divorced, they work together and raise a daughter together, even while living apart. The books all take place in San Francisco (although they both live in Marin County) and combine murder mysteries with courtroom drama. They are enormously entertaining.
So, naturally, I started reading Terrorist with a bit of skepticism. I wasn't worried that Sheldon couldn't write a good book that didn't have Mike and Rosie in it. It was more a concern that I wouldn't enjoy a book that didn't have Mike and Rosie in it. Well, I'm happy to say that my fears were unfounded. I immediately got into the new protagonists, Detectives David Gold and A.C. Battle, and the new venue, Chicago.
SIDE NOTE: What you might not know about Sheldon is that he grew up in Chicago. I learned this a couple of years ago when I was fortunate enough to have dinner with him (along with Joni and Rich). We had gone to see him promote one of his books at "M" is for Mystery in San Mateo. When the book signing was done, Sheldon accepted an invitation to have dinner with the 3 of us at Kingfish, a very good restaurant a block from the bookstore. It was there that we learned about his roots and his still- passionate love for the Bears, White Sox, Bulls, and Black Hawks. It was a great evening, and he's a great guy.
But I digress (big time). The book starts with Gold getting a medal from the mayor for stopping a terrorist attack at the Art Institute. Unfortunately, Gold's partner at the time, Paul Liszewski, was killed during the attack. The alleged perpetrator, Hassan al-Shahid, is now in jail. During the ceremony, a car bomb goes off on a street near where Gold is receiving his honor. Although nobody is killed, Gold immediately gets a text message that says: "It isn't over." Thus begins the cat-and-mouse game between Gold and the bomber, who claims he wants al-Shahid released from prison. Along the way, tthere are more fire bombings and a fair amount of deaths.
I really enjoy a book that does not follow a standard script. Many of the terrorist-themed novels, although I like a lot of them, take place with stereotypical Middle Eastern antagonists. This one definitely does not. I can't tell you why because, just like Gone Girl, I don't want to give anything away. But trust me when I tell you that this is a very clever, very creative, and very well-written book. Whether you read Sheldon's Mike and Rosie books or not, you will enjoy this. It stands alone (get it? - stand-alone?).
NEXT-UP: Hurray! Sheldon's next book, The Felony Murder Rule, goes back to Mike and Rosie. But I have to say that I will not be disappointed if we get another David Gold thriller.