BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review of Split Second by Catherine Coulter

Publisher: Putnam Adult

Release Date: July 19, 2011

Series: #15 in FBI Thrillers

Buying Links:  Amazon     The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from goodreads):

A serial killer is on the loose, and it's up to FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock to bring him down. They soon discover that the killer has blood ties to the infamous and now long-dead monster Ted Bundy. Savich and Sherlock are joined by agents Lucy Carlyle and Cooper McKnight, and the chase is on. 

At the same time, Agent Carlyle learns from her dying father that her grandfather didn't simply walk away from his family twenty-two years ago: he was, in fact, murdered by his wife, Lucy's grandmother. Determined to find the truth, Lucy moves into her grandmother's Chevy Chase mansion. What she finds, however, is a nightmare. Not only does she discover the truth of what happened all those years ago, but she faces a new mystery as well, a strange ring that holds powers beyond her ken. 

As the hunt for the serial killer escalates, Savich realizes he's become the killer's focus, and perhaps the next victim. It's up to Lucy to stop this madness before it's too late.
My Thoughts:

Ms. Coulter has a knack for drawing the reader in from the first page. You get invested in each character and don't want the story to end, or at least, that's my reaction. The beauty of a series is that the story continues, in some fashion, from book to book. Because I like this series so much, I was somewhat hesitant to read this one. I was a little disappointed with Coulter's last book, "Whiplash", and also with several of the books prior to it. They seemed a little stale, as if she was working on an assembly line. This one follows her formula but there's a life and vigor that have been missing from the last few books. It's her usual set up: the main mystery, which this time has Savich and Sherlock taking the lead, and three sub-plots; one involves the ubiquitous romance, this time involving agents Cooper McKnight and Lucy Carlyle; an investigation by Lucy into her grandfather's disappearance; and an unrelated attempted robbery that Savich foils then helps the local police investigate.

I was glad to see Savich and Sherlock back in action as the main leads both in the story and in the case. I think one reason I haven't liked some of the other FBI books as well (although "The Target" is my favorite one) is that while Savich and his team get called in, the focus is on whichever non-FBI character has the love story in that book. I like a change in location and perspective but I really, really like Savich and Sherlock. For me, they ARE the FBI books. 

Anyway, the main story here is a bit different for Coulter. I was surprised at first, then I liked it. She draws on real life and postulates that Ted Bundy, a real life serial killer, had a daughter, one no one knew about, including him, and now she's following in daddy's footsteps. I can't recall Coulter drawing on a real life person or incident before. Like I said, it surprised me at first and I wondered how believable she could make it. She did pretty well. Again, she follows pattern - the killer, Bundy's daughter Kirsten, has a male helper/romantic partner and they, or more accurately, she becomes obsessed with Savich. But Kirsten's crimes are partially inspired by and modeled after daddy dearest. The result was a blend of classic Coulter and mild true crime.

Kirsten becomes obsessed with both Savich and Sherlock after a failed attempt to capture her and this results in the entire family, including their five year old son Sean, being at risk. It seems inevitable, at least in Coulters world, that that would happen and Coulter pulls it off without being trite or playing to our emotions. I also liked that we got a different perspective on their working dynamics: on several occasions, when on the job, Savich has to remind Sherlock that he's her boss and she needs to follow orders. Sherlock takes it well but it's a good detail for Coulter to have. Later, there's a comment about the two other agents who get involved and Savich replies, (I'm paraphrasing here) that for him to object would be the pot calling the kettle black. I doubt if the real FBI allows married or involved agents in the same unit so it was nice to see Coulter have that little bit of authenticity.

Meanwhile, Lucy is dealing with a nightmare that no one should have to deal with: Her father's death bed confession that her grandfather was murdered by her own grandmother. The story had always been that he went "walkabout" and never came back. She becomes obsessed with finding out the truth and in the process lies to her boss, on multiple occasions, and becomes romantically involved with her partner, Cooper. Lucy is hesitant at first to ask her friends or coworkers for help, needing to do it on her own. Later, she has no choice but to rely on Coop and call in the FBI and the police. Coulter introduces more woo-woo to the story with this sub-plot and I didn't completely buy it. In my opinion, it didn't fit with the series as a whole. Savich's possible ESP? I'm good with that, I can believe in it and she's carefully established it over the series. This was a cross between mysticism and sci fi and it didn't work for me. The  In another series, and with more backstory, I might have been okay with it; it just didn't work in the context of this series. The romance between Coop and Lucy is gradual at first then picks up steam. It's sweet but lacks Sherlock's and Savich's chemistry. 

The last sub-plot, unrelated to anything else happening in the book, involves an acquaintance of Savich's. Mr. Patil, the owner of a convenience store where Savich shops, has been robbed twice in a short period of time and ends up in the hospital after the second attempt. Savich foils the first attempt and gets suspicious when there is a second attempt and Patil is shot. He works with the local police to figure it out and keep Patil alive. Honestly, it added nothing and could easily have been left out.

There's a lot going on and Coulter succeeds in .moving between story lines and perspectives without confusing the reader, or worse, losing their interest.

It's definitely worth picking up and reading. If you are new to the FBI series, you will be able to read it fairly easily.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

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