Who poses the greater danger to Holly Barker (Iron Orchid, 2005, etc.): the man who once tried to rape her, or a vigilante who shoots political figures who don’t share his views? The answer is the only surprise on tap.
Just as she’s been forced to take time off from her job with the CIA, Holly Barker learns that Col. James Bruno, the one-time Army superior who was acquitted of all charges—the attempted rape of Holly and the actual rape of Lt. Lauren Cade—is back on the scene. In fact, he’s Holly’s successor as police chief of Orchid Beach, Fla. Not surprisingly, the town and environs have recently been home to a series of rapes by someone who’s recently graduated to murder. The victims are unimportant, along with the circumstances or the details of each crime scene. What matters is that Holly herself, returning to the area, has been attacked once more, though once more she’s had a narrow escape from actual rape. So her interest in nailing Bruno is both personal and stoked by very recent events. Also on hand, and feeling much the same way, are two familiar faces. Lauren Cade, who’s taken a job with a special investigative unit working out of nearby Vero Beach, is just as angry at Bruno as ever, and just as determined to see justice done. And ex–CIA operative Teddy Fay (Mounting Fears, 2009, etc.), temporarily on leave from his self-appointed mission of assassinating political figures he thinks are too far to the right. What could possibly happen when Teddy goes up against Bruno—and what surprises could possibly await Holly and Lauren?
The familiar characters’ familiar moves are as stylized as Kabuki in this pedestrian procedural. But at least the ending doesn’t simply hit the Reset button for the next round.