The Edge

Catherine Coulter, Author $22.95 (388p) ISBN 978-0-399-14506-3
Like Jilly Bartlett, who drives her white Porsche off an Oregon cliff in the prologue, Coulter (The Target) has an uncertain hand on the wheel of her rambling thriller. FBI agent Ford ""Mac"" MacDouglas, Jilly's brother, is a tough-but-tenderhearted protagonist unraveling the mystery surrounding his sister's plunge--with frequent interruptions for sex and violent surprises. Jilly, a brilliant chemist, survives the accident (or is it a suicide attempt?), only to disappear upon awaking from a four-day coma, leaving Mac with some vexing questions. What kind of drug have Jilly and her unpleasant scientist husband, Paul, developed--a fountain of youth, a wild libido enhancer, a fertility drug, a memory-eraser, or all of the above? Why is Jilly deathly afraid of beautiful Laura Scott, who's ostensibly a reclusive research librarian but obviously far too street smart to play that role convincingly? Who killed retired cop Charlie Duck? Coulter risks exasperating her readers--who may tire of the relentless questions this book raises in increasingly heavy doses--with excessive and transparent collusions; it turns out that the highway patrolman who rescues Jilly has ties to sheriff Maggie Sheffield, and that Sheffield is the ex-wife of a detective. The intrigue doesn't really add up to much, whether the action is taking place amid flowing champagne in the Edgeworth, Ore., home of wealthy evildoer Alyssum Tarcher or in the rain forest of Costa Rica where Mac and Laura are whisked, after being gassed, then drugged. Coulter, who made her name writing historical romances before shifting into modern suspense mode, packs her newest tale with an overabundance of perilous contrivances, and for the most part, between drug cartel kidnappers and love on the lam, the plot buckles under its own weight. Author tour. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
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