The Edge

Hemlock Bay

The Target

Blindside by Catherine Coulter
(Jove, $7.99, V) ISBN 0-515-13720-0
Coulter fans will have met FBI agents Savich and Sherlock in prior novels. They are investigating a purported serial killer in the Virginia-Maryland area who is concentrating on math teachers for victims when their best friendís son is kidnapped.

Miraculously, they are able to drop the serial killer case and rush to the side of their friend Miles Kettering. Sam is six years old and, if he is still alive, their worst fears center on the possibility of his abductor being a pedophile.

Meanwhile in Tennessee, Sam has escaped from his kidnappers and runs into the highway where he is spotted by Sheriff Katie Benedict and her small daughter Keely. Katie stops to pick Sam up and tries to arrest the kidnappers but they flee after she wounds one of them. Electing to stay with the cold and wet Sam and her daughter, Katie dispatches her deputies for the chase.

It is only later when a pharmacist calls her to report that a stranger resembling a kidnapper has purchased medical supplies, that Katie realizes they have not left the area.

Savich and Miles Kettering fly to Tennessee to pick up Sam. Before they can get there the kidnappers strike again, this time invading Katieís home to get Sam. Katie kills one of them but the other escapes. In the ensuing melee, Savich is wounded saving Katie. This will bring Sherlock to town.

Meanwhile Keely and Sam have bonded. It is for this reason and also because they realize that Sam is the focus and the epicenter of the plot that they all stay in Jessborough, Tennessee.

The investigation begins and they are drawn to Pastor Sooner McCamy and his bizarre wife Elspeth and to a congregation that truly believes it is a manís world.

The plot is weak, but what is most disturbing is the jaunty dialogue. Perhaps because of this, at no time can the reader truly get involved with the seriousness of the plot or the characters. The beginning is interesting but the story limps through a sagging middle to its conclusion. In fact, there are two conclusions as the serial killer mystery is solved in a few short pages after Savich and Sherlock return to D.C.

It seemed as if there is a cast of thousands and too many of these characters have absolutely no impact on the story journey. These incidences merely serve to dilute the impact of the major characters. However, what the author does best is to imbue the reader with a true sense of life in east Tennessee.

--Thea Davis

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