A throat slasher and a U.S. Marshall duel for possession of a woman who knows much too much about the government’s witness protection program.
Paolo, the merciless throat slasher and self-mutilator in this latest from tension master Pearson (The Body of David Hayes, 2004, etc.), is in the employ of the super-evil Romero gang, very bad guys who have somehow come to control the government programmer who encrypted every bit of information about every last federally protected witness. Among the thousands of witnesses now threatened with exposure is Hope Stevens, the woman with the goods on the Romeros and the great vanished love of U.S. Marshall Roland Larson’s life. The door that slammed shut five years ago on any future for the two when Hope entered the witness protection program without him is now ajar, and Larson is dead keen to find her, save her and take up where they left off. But there’s a complication. Larson learns that Hope, who left the protection program to vanish even deeper into the heartland, now has someone else in her life. Following the slightest of clues, Paolo and Larson chase Hope from city to city, just missing her and each other, until Paolo is clever enough to snatch the plucky five-year-old daughter Hope has hidden from the world. When Larson at last finds Hope, she’s frantic with fear for the child, and Larson has his hands full keeping her safe and out of the hunt for Paolo, the missing programmer, and the Romero gang who are getting ready to auction off their wealth of information to their revenge-crazed underworld associates. Newly exposed witnesses begin to drop as the Romeros demonstrate the goods. Cell phone and e-mail trails lead the couple from Florida all the way to Pearson’s favorite Pacific Northwest, where Paolo, now maimed by oven cleaner but still holding Penny, is headed to the auction, still under orders to murder Hope Stevens.
Awfully fast and agreeably scary.