Equation for Evil
“Equation for Evil is a white-knuckle thriller replete with violent racist conspiracies, kinky sex, and a cool twist for an ending.” —Esquire
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Rumor of War comes a suspenseful and penetrating novel which explores the themes of racism and violence. Set in contemporary California, Equation for Evil examines the anatomy of a horrific crime—a lone gunman opens fire on a busload of Asian-American children and then turns the gun on himself.
From Library Journal
Duane Boggs ambushes a schoolbus of Asian American children who are on a field trip in California, then turns the gun on himself. Three days later the California state attorney assigns forensic psychiatrist Leander Heartwood and special agent Gabriel Chin to investigate the case and perform a psychiatric autopsy to determine Boggs’s motives. What begins as a psychiatric inquiry quickly takes on the guise of a criminal investigation as incriminating evidence begins to indicate the possibility of an accomplice. Caputo (A Rumor of War, LJ 5/15/77) combines elements of a psychological thriller and police procedural in a novel that explores the issue of racial violence in considerable depth. The result is another riveting novel by one of America’s master storytellers. Recommended for most libraries.
—Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The avidly read Caputo’s latest novel is a troubling but nonetheless engrossing story very much of our time. Although the plot is not grabbed literally from today’s violence-laden headlines, it echoes shades of this case and tones of that one, from the Oklahoma City bombing to the recent assassination of the Israeli prime minister. Duane Boggs awakens “early on what he hoped would be the last day of his life”; later that morning, he opens fire on a San Joaquin, California, school bus full of kids on a field trip, killing 14 of them, and his own death wish is fulfilled in the process. The “school bus massacre case” horrifies the nation, especially with its racial overtones (most of the victims were Vietnamese or Cambodian). To determine what caused this particular incident—and, in broader terms, what causes these kinds of atrocious events—state officials decide to team a forensic psychiatrist with an agent of the California department of justice and assign them to arrive at a “psychological autopsy” of the alleged perpetrator. Such a project demands that the two men confront personal issues as well as social ones as they close in on the evidence of how violent rhetoric can lead to violent behavior. —Brad Hooper
“… an inventive and topical psychological thriller …” — The New York Times Book Review, K. Thomas MacFarlane