How could Florida’s Orchid Beach Police Chief Holly Barker outdo her action-packed debut (Orchid Beach, 1998)? By losing her bridegroom to the lunatic terrorists who, having failed to kill presidential candidate William Henry Lee in The Run (2000), are trying again now that he’s been elected.
En route to his wedding to Holly, Jackson Oxenhandler visits a branch of Southern Trust just in time to stop a shotgun blast an otherwise highly professional robber fires against his chief’s orders. (Readers who take this as a clue to some deeper design don’t know Woods very well.) Luckily, though improbably, Jackson’s spent his last few minutes chatting with visiting Woods superhero Stone Barrington (Cold Paradise, p. 289, etc.), who’s able to give Holly some wonderfully precise descriptions of the four robbers. A check on the branch’s recent hires reveals another amazing coincidence. Two separate employees seem to have been in cahoots with the misguided patriots calling themselves The Elect, one to provide inside dope for the robbery, the other to embezzle funds for the sort of large-bore weapons Holly and her dad Ham stumble on when their attempt to trace a vanished teller brings them to a major-league gun show run by a cadre of survivalists so impressed with Ham’s Army pedigree and delivery of terms like “Desert Storm” and “Vietnam” that they take him to their bosom. It’s Ham, groomed as a sharpshooting assassin by The Elect, who emerges as the real star of the show, as the lame whodunit disappears with no more trace than Holly’s grief for the fiancé she lost on their wedding day, leaving a standard anti-terrorist tale that’s a custom fit for Woods’s comic-strip approach to character.
Saturday matinee fodder that’ll keep you turning pages faster than an Elect recruit can field-strip a sidearm—though it’ll help if your own capacity for critical reflection is just as low.