Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this fast and furious-but overly calculated-thriller, a female Secret Service agent is set up to take the fall for the assassination of a powerful senator.
As a child, little Holland Tylo endured a "spray of blood'' from the body of her father, also a U.S. senator, when he was pierced by an assassin's bullets. This traumatic event, in Shelby's hands, is supposed to explain not only why Tylo grew up to become a Secret Service agent but also why she is so driven to find the killer of Senator Charles Westbourne, who is slain after insisting that Tylo, who's guarding him, let him have a little privacy. Primed to take the fall for Westbourne's death, Tylo turns out to be the unwitting owner of a computer disk that contains the dead man's smoking-gun evidence against powerful members of the government-and the killer knows this, because Tylo is trusting the wrong people. But instead of turning into a cat-and-mouse game or a gritty procedural, the novel quickly comes to resemble only a fleshed-out screenplay, where the seen-it-before plot has Tylo framed for murder, branded as a rogue agent and sent into hiding-from where, with the help of a few loyal friends, she attempts to clear her name, reveal the conspiracy and bring the killer and the guilty to justice. This is thriller-writing by the numbers-a lot of drive and a lot of energy, but very little heart or feeling for devastating events, like the death of a lover; there are too many unflattering echoes of the movie "In the Line of Fire", as well.
If Shelby (Oasis of Dreams, 1992) set out to write a novel destined to become a soulless but action-filled movie blockbuster, he's succeeded.
Rookie Secret Service agent Holland Tylo, daughter of the late Senator Beaumont, has a plum assignment in guarding Senator Westbourne during a meeting of Washington moguls at his estate. As she escorts the senator to his guest house for a late night tryst, he's suddenly shot dead, and her career with him. As the investigation progresses, more bodies fall while a professional assassin stalks Washington. Holland becomes both hunter and hunted as she fights to vindicate herself and sort out the good guys from the bad. Why is she a target? Is the president next? The Secret Service is caught in a crossfire of murder and political blackmail that threatens to destroy the administration and discredit the country's intelligence network. Author Shelby (Oasis of Dreams, Bantam, 1993) has a real winner with this fast-paced, highly engrossing thriller. Movie rights have already been sold. For most popular collections.
-- Susan Clifford, Hughes Aircraft Company Library, Los Angeles
Rookie Secret Service agent Holland Tylo is assigned to protect the charming, powerful Senator Charles Westbourne. Due to a procedural slipup, the senator and his mistress are brutally murdered, but not before he slips Tylo a diskette containing explosive material about a group of influential senators. Tylo is singled out to take the heat for the senator's murder and is cut loose from the service. But the killer comes after Tylo next. Alone and disgraced, she's unclear about who she can trust and who ordered the hit. She reaches out to her former mentor, and they soon discover that the killer is a rogue agent and that the senator's assassination was an inside job that reaches to the upper echelons of the Secret Service. Shelby delivers an edge-of-the-seat page-turner with a likable, cool-headed heroine. Tossing off at least a half-dozen distinctive characterizations in the space of a few paragraphs, he uses a minimalist style to great effect, paring down the prose while ratcheting up the tension.