Bullet in the Blue Sky by Bill Larkin is set after a huge earthquake decimates Los Angeles. A group of police officers, FBI, and Army personnel search through the city ruins for Detective Gavin Shaw. No one is quite aware of just what makes Gavin Shaw so important, and they have to navigate a city rife with looting, murders, and other dangers to continue with the rescue. When the group catches up with Shaw, he reveals that there’s more than meets the eye with the earthquake and the city’s destruction. A kind of crime-ridden “Saving Private Ryan,” in which men need to save someone in a virtual warzone, Bullet in the Sky is an exciting thriller that might fit into a new category: the disaster procedural.
As a former member of the L.A. Police Department, Bill Larkin provides illuminating details about police procedure, though not so much that it overwhelms the story. The destruction and the ensuing violence is covered with care – it doesn’t read like a cartoonish disaster movie, even if the destruction does reach those levels. Larkin masterfully blends the epic with the everyday, including a cast of characters you become quickly attached to, and feel emotionally torn if they meet their end. This sense of realism and emotional weight is especially important given the book’s startling big reveal in the end – a clever and surprising twist, which makes this thriller even more thrilling.