The nineteenth suspense novel of the prolific author Catherine Coulter finds her blending characters new and old in a two-pronged storyline, a slow building thriller of Scandal-like proportions. On one side, Davis Sullivan is tasked with protecting the U.S. ambassador to England, Natalie Black, and her daughter, Perry, safe from a shadowy stalker; on the other, the husband and wife team of Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich find that Blessed Blackman has escaped and is targeting them in a revenge-driven quest to avenge his mother. While the first hundred or so pages take time getting to the gripping action, the finish finds us watching as the two plots threaten our heroes’ safety and happiness.
Sullivan’s case gets the majority of our attention as he first saves Black from a carjacker, and then finds himself assigned to be her bodyguard. There seem to be an abundance of motives, from the suspicious death of Black’s fiancee to something her daughter may be involved in, but Sullivan’s motivations to get to the bottom of it move from business to personal as he grows to care about the family. But the elder Black is knee-deep in political machinations, and the complexities would make Shonda Rhimes proud.
The Blackman case is more cut-and-dry: Blessed is a crazy cultist with powers of mental manipulations, who sees Sherlock as the reasons for his family’s undoing. But the depth of the Savich-Sherlock relationship resembles a King & Maxwell relationship a la David Baldacci, with the added investment that they have a son. This is actually the creepier, more engaging of the two story lines, and it adds to the thrilling aspects in a way that the slow boil of the Black stalking.
Coulter writes in a way that’s pretty easy reading, and enough clues are dropped that you may figure out where this is going. But rather than outthinking us, the author appears more interested in making us care about her characters and watching them develop. It’s a thriller, FBI-wide and precarious, until the finish.