With technology, crime takes on a new dimension, radical changes both in tracking criminal activities and the ability of a predator to gather pertinent and personal information about his victims. For all the technological progress in law enforcement, it is criminals who are most empowered, emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet.
With the proliferation of data mining and other applications, even the most cautious user may be digitally pursued. Certainly, the tech-savvy younger generation, posting pictures, schedules and thoughts on their personal web pages, leave an obvious bread trail for any mischievous party to follow.
The vast network of the LA Times is no exception, with the constant exchange of emails and story deadlines. Even an old dog like Jack McEvoy, who has just received his two-weeks notice from a financially crippled newspaper, uses certain applications to get his stories in on time.
Unfortunately for Jack, his pink slip comes with the obligation of training his replacement, a hungry young reporter named Angela Cook. Following up on his last assignment, a sixteen-year-old accused of a recent trunk murder, Jack quickly learns that Angela has no qualms about cutting in on his story. But this is Jack’s last hurrah, and he plans to go out with a bang, not a whimper.
While Angela inserts herself charmingly into every meeting, Jack accidentally trips over a bigger story, the trunk murder but one element of a larger plot. Following a lead to Las Vegas, Jack expects Angela to cope with the daily briefings and background prep. He has no way of knowing that before he connects with a critical interview, Angela will become the lead story that will break the front page wide open.
While a paean to the great days of journalism and a sad commentary on the impending demise of the LA Times, The Scarecrow is a forward-looking thriller, author Connelly delivering a solid, well-plotted tale of evil perpetrated on unsuspecting victims. And the killer McEvoy pursues – now with the help of FBI resources - is every bit as heinous as other vicious serial killers, albeit more nimble as he scampers through “the labyrinthine portals of the digital world.”
Connelly embraces this new world with a twisted plot all the more menacing for the anonymity of the killer. Outwitted at every turn, Jack is in increasing danger as he follows a story that far exceeds its early parameters. The Scarecrow is a fascinating mix of history (the LA Times) and corporate greed, the federal bureaucracy at its best and worst (FBI) and one reporter’s refusal to take the easy way out. Jack is propelled into the future to survive the present in this excellent mystery that never lets up.