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Something precious and beautiful is being ruthlessly destroyed. And those who champion the small, fragile, threatened lives are endangered themselves. An agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rachel Porter has been assigned to the northern California wilds, where a biologist recently vanished while searching for a rare blue butterfly believed extinct — a hunt that may well have led him to his death. And now a young girl has gone missing also, and her disappearance might be connected, so Rachel cannot ...
Something precious and beautiful is being ruthlessly destroyed. And those who champion the small, fragile, threatened lives are endangered themselves. An agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rachel Porter has been assigned to the northern California wilds, where a biologist recently vanished while searching for a rare blue butterfly believed extinct — a hunt that may well have led him to his death. And now a young girl has gone missing also, and her disappearance might be connected, so Rachel cannot ignore it. But bodies and lies are piling up in her path, and beyond them catastrophe is waiting for Rachel Porter. Because in a world of heartless greed and cruel obsession, there may be nothing that separates a fanatic collector from a cold-blooded killer.
Damn Mister Softee. I couldn't get the ice-cream truck's canned kiddy music out of my head, its jingle playing over and over in endless fashion. I'm not really sure why -- possibly because I was driving a van that looked exactly like it. The only difference was the company name printed on the side. It had been lent to me by an air delivery service, along with the courier uniform I now wore.
Cultivating my informant had finally paid off. I'd worked hard to establish a bond, exhibiting patience and concern by playing his "shrink for a day." I'd gone so far as to take his calls in the middle of the night, listening as he babbled on, his stories fueled by a combo of drugs, booze, and paranoia. In return, I'd learned that a package invoiced as toys would be coming in from Singapore; only its actual contents were endangered Burmese star tortoises.
The case was cut and dry. The box had arrived at Customs and had been X-rayed. Toys lay on top, while tortoises packed in plastic containers were secreted beneath a false bottom. The creatures spent their days and nights in the dark, waiting to be sold on the black market for five thousand dollars a pair.
I'd rushed to an airport warehouse, slit open the box, and marked each tortoise's shell with a UV pen. Then the reptiles were resealed inside their portable coffins. My plan was to deliver the package to the "toy store" and track where the torts went, nailing as many perps as possible in the process.
I'd performed similar "controlled" deliveries before; but something was different this time. Getting back in the van, I found that my mouth was inexplicably dry, my hands trembled on the steering wheel, and a dull pain ate away at the pit of my stomach. My heart raced with each passing mile, thumping hard against my chest as I turned onto the exit ramp; harder as my target came into view.
Pulling up to the curb, I grabbed the box and walked toward the store, my limbs feeling heavier than ever before. By now, the Mister Softee tune had permanently wormed its way into my brain, its tinny music pure auditory torture.
I knocked and someone opened the door. I never saw a face; just the barrel of a gun like a gaping black hole. Its mouth filled the entranceway, consuming time and space. I broke into a cold sweat and screamed NO! only to realize that it was already too late.
A shot rang out, piercing the air. It ripped through my body, lifting me off the ground and throwing me onto my back. My mind shrieked and my head slammed against what felt like pavement, my teeth jostling about like loose plastic beads in a baby rattle. The commotion echoed in my ears and my body ached, as if it were being kicked.
"Fight back, damn it!"
The voice barely made a dent in my consciousness, floating toward me from somewhere in the background. It was the sharp jolt of a full-frontal kick that shattered my daze, jerking me out of my head and back into reality.
"For chrissakes, Rachel. Snap out of it!"
The nightmare was happening again. I wasn't outside, garbed in a courier's uniform. Rather, I was in a gym, dressed in sweatpants, tee-shirt, and sneakers, with my hair plastered against my back and a rivulet of sweat trickling down my chin.
"What are you trying to do? Get your ass kicked on purpose?"
There was no time to think, much less react, as a foot planted itself in my stomach like a conquering flag. I was flung against a wall, causing a shock of pain to radiate throughout my body. Morbid Angel's music pounded in the air, replacing Mister Softee's theme, and the room lights flickered on and off in a blatant attempt to distract me. The ploy worked, giving my attacker time enough to land another solid punch. Everything moved in slow motion as a fist flew toward me, only I couldn't fend it off.
Then a stranger's voice hissed in my ear as two hands locked themselves tightly around my throat. That was enough to bring me fully to attention.
"What good are you, Porter? You'd never have been able to protect the courier that was killed all because she was mistaken for you."
"No!" I yelled.
I raised my right arm and swiftly pivoted to the side. Then ramming an elbow down hard, I broke my assailant's grip and jerked his hands from my throat. All restraint was shelved as I then grabbed hold of his shoulder and drove my knee into his stomach in a series of short, explosive bursts. It was pure exhilaration to finally release the frustration that had been building inside me for months.
I showed no mercy, but slammed his jaw twice with my open palm. His mouth guard flew across the room as I continued to pummel the man. I moved hard and fast, until a pair of arms wrapped themselves around my body and pulled me off. Breaking free, I turned to deliver a roundhouse punch only to be stopped in midair as two strong hands grabbed hold of my wrists.
"Whoa, Rambo! Calm down. You've beaten up your sparring partner quite enough."
My instructor's face slowly came into focus.
"Krav Maga is a method of bare-bones street fighting to be used for defense; not as a license to commit murder. You should have reacted this way immediately, and not waited to have the crap kicked out of you."
I pushed a strand of red hair from my eyes while struggling to catch my breath. "Yeah, I'll try to remember that."
"He's right, chère. Keep in mind that someone in this family has to stay healthy."
I glanced over to where the love of my life, Jake Santou, sat in a chair cheering me on ...Blue Twilight
Posted October 10, 2004
Jessica Speart continues to entertain with the latest installment in her extremely enjoyable and informative Rachel Porter series, BLUE TWILIGHT. Having annoyed her superiors pretty much everywhere she¿s been stationed as a Fish and Wildlife Service agent, she¿s now in San Francisco investigating¿butterfly poaching? However, when a biologist goes missing and her friend Terri¿s boyfriend¿s daughter also disappears Rachel begins to fear that there¿s a lot more than the obvious going on. And although her boyfriend Jake Santou is back after surviving a brutal plane crash, his addiction to painkillers and alcohol is tormenting both of them. Plus, Terri is having a difficult time finding work as a female impersonator ¿ everyone wants Britney, not Madonna ¿ and Rachel¿s landlady is determined to teach Rachel how to cook. Yikes. More missing women, a mysterious cult-like figure who is engineering the butterfly poaching, and a bunch of obsessive butterfly collectors round out Rachel¿s list of problems that will keep her running to the book¿s exciting conclusion. Fans who have become disappointed with Nevada Barr should look to this wonderful series that continues to keep up the high level of quality Speart started with in the first Rachel Porter mystery, GATOR AIDE. Rachel is likeable for her humor, her determination, her love of wildlife, and her attitude that really annoys her bosses. The descriptions of San Francisco are also beautifully rendered as Rachel explores Chinatown and the city¿s wildlife. BLUE TWILIGHT concludes with one of the creepiest scenes written, and I can¿t encourage readers enough to follow this series. Don¿t miss it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 8, 2004
The rare Lotis Mission Blue butterfly, is every collectors' dream piece. Very few have the Lotis Blue. When the biologist originally sent to investigate an illegal butterfly trade goes missing, Rachel Porter is put on the case. ...................... Rachel Porter is an agent for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. She believes the previous person was murdered. While looking into the disappearance, a little girl also goes missing and witnesses start dying. Rachel must quickly learn what makes this butterfly so valued and why collectors are so interested in such a delicate creature. More importantly, why would someone become a cold blooded killer to get one. ........................... **** Definitely a good read! The last thirty pages kept 'butterflies' in my stomach. Author Jessica Speart spins a tale that is guaranteed to keep her readers on the edge of their seats and up well into the night. ****Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 7, 2009
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