After a string of successes based on the escapades of the redoubtable Stone Barrington, Woods (Swimming to Catalina) shifts to a female protagonist in this police procedural, with mostly smooth and satisfying results. Woods's new heroine is Holly Barker, a 37-year-old MP supervisor whose army career comes to a halt when she loses a sexual harassment suit against her superior officer. A friend of her father's offers her a position as a deputy in the small Florida town of the title, but life becomes even more problematic when she gets there and finds that her benefactor is in a coma after having been shot. The body of his best friend is discovered next. The clues quickly lead to an exclusive community for the ultra-rich within Orchid Beach that bears a suspicious resemblance to a military installation, and the trail gets hotter when several corrupt Miami ex-cops turn up on the community's roster of security workers. Aided by local defense attorney Jackson Oxenhandler, Barker gathers a raft of evidence that she turns over to the FBI, which organizes a well-planned assault on the fortress. The climactic raid is somewhat lacking in suspense, but Woods compensates by introducing a charming romantic subplot between Holly and Jackson, and the story gets extra bite from Holly's intriguing relationship with an inherited canine named Daisy, the clairvoyant Doberman that belonged to her mentor. Agent, Anne Sibbald. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998 Release date: 10/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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