When the CIA thinks you need a breather, you don't argue. Disappointed that she let terrorist Teddy Fay slip through her fingers for a second time, Special Agent Holly Barker returns quietly to home in Orchid Beach, Florida, where she once served as police chief. On her return, she receives the painful news that the police department is now headed by a rapist who once assaulted her but escaped conviction. Holly realizes that she is at a crossroads: Should she return to the CIA? Or should challenge this old nemesis?
Bestseller Woods piles on the coincidences in his modestly entertaining fifth thriller to feature CIA agent Holly Barker (after Iron Orchid). When Holly returns home to Orchid Beach, Fla., where she was once chief of police, she's reunited with both welcome and unwelcome figures from her past. Renegade ex-CIA agent Teddy Fay, sporting a new identity, has chosen to settle in nearby Vero Beach. Lauren Cade, a former military comrade, is now a sergeant with the Florida State Patrol. Holly is shocked to learn that James Bruno, her former commanding officer who was tried and acquitted of raping Lauren and who once tried to rape Holly herself, is Orchid Beach's new police chief. Holly's not so shocked to learn that a serial killer and rapist is at work in the area. Woods glibly lets the reader stay well ahead of the legal posse tracking the killer while still keeping a card or two up his sleeve. Playful dialogue and romantic sexual escapades lighten the atmosphere. (Sept.)
Who poses the greater danger to Holly Barker (Iron Orchid, 2005, etc.): the man who once tried to rape her, or a vigilante who shoots political figures who don't share his views? The answer is the only surprise on tap. Just as she's been forced to take time off from her job with the CIA, Holly Barker learns that Col. James Bruno, the one-time Army superior who was acquitted of all charges-the attempted rape of Holly and the actual rape of Lt. Lauren Cade-is back on the scene. In fact, he's Holly's successor as police chief of Orchid Beach, Fla. Not surprisingly, the town and environs have recently been home to a series of rapes by someone who's recently graduated to murder. The victims are unimportant, along with the circumstances or the details of each crime scene. What matters is that Holly herself, returning to the area, has been attacked once more, though once more she's had a narrow escape from actual rape. So her interest in nailing Bruno is both personal and stoked by very recent events. Also on hand, and feeling much the same way, are two familiar faces. Lauren Cade, who's taken a job with a special investigative unit working out of nearby Vero Beach, is just as angry at Bruno as ever, and just as determined to see justice done. And ex-CIA operative Teddy Fay (Mounting Fears, 2009, etc.), temporarily on leave from his self-appointed mission of assassinating political figures he thinks are too far to the right. What could possibly happen when Teddy goes up against Bruno-and what surprises could possibly await Holly and Lauren?The familiar characters' familiar moves are as stylized as Kabuki in this pedestrian procedural. But at least the ending doesn't simply hit the Reset buttonfor the next round.
Praise for Hothouse Orchid
“Woods glibly lets the reader stay well ahead of the legal posse tracking the killer while still keeping a card or two up his sleeve. Playful dialogue and romantic sexual escapades lighten the atmosphere.”—Publishers Weekly
More Praise for Stuart Woods
“Stuart Woods is a no-nonsense, slam-bang storyteller.”—Chicago Tribune
“A world-class mystery writer...I try to put Woods’s books down and I can’t.”—Houston Chronicle
“Mr. Woods, like his characters, has an appealing way of making things nice and clear.”—The New York Times
“Woods certainly knows how to keep the pages turning.”—Booklist
“Since 1981, readers have not been able to get their fill of Stuart Woods’ New York Times bestselling novels of suspense.”—Orlando Sentinel