No Control

No Escape
by Shannon Butcher
(Warner Forever, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-446-51028-8
Gifted writer Shannon Butcher is back with her third novel featuring another retiring member of The Delta Squad, Grant Kent. †He is on his way to Denver to join the security agency founded by his friend David showcased in No Regrets, and makes a 300 mile detour to see his old friend Isabelle Carson.

Isabelle is an important figure from Grantís past who religiously kept up with him by sending birthday and Christmas cards. She uncharacteristically departed from this pattern with a telephone message urging him to be careful because things had become weird. Since she had never called him before, he sensed something was wrong and decided to investigate.

The past they shared was living together in a foster home run by Lavine, a sexual deviant who abused both girls and boys. †Isabelle was in her teens when Grant interrupted an attempted rape upon her by Lavine; stopping it, only by killing him. Not only has Isabelle kept up with Grant but also with all the other people who had shared that foster home. She is stunned to see Grant and afraid for him because she is fearful something will happen to him.

Of the many people who had lived in that house with them, six of them are now dead, all ruled as suicides by the authorities. Isabelle has tried to convince the police that this is too much of a coincidence but has been unsuccessful in doing so. Grant is of a suspicious nature so is willing to listen. Reviewing the files she has on the deaths makes him even more wary, and he finds that the alleged suicides have occurred in the order that people had come to live with Lavine. This relationship of the deaths is almost statistically impossible, and thus he is able to finally interest the police.

Isabelle is also providing foster care for Dale, a teen age boy whose father has just been released from prison. Dale and his relationship with his father becomes a secondary plot, together with the lives of the remaining†living former foster children.

Isabelle's teen age crush on Grant matures to full grown yearning and Grant fights his attraction in a predictable romantic suspense novel fashion. More intriguing is the originality of the plot, and the tension is well managed in the pacing of the story. As usual for this author, the characters are very well developed eliciting empathy from the reader.

The dynamics of the relationships among the principals and secondary characters are great and aided by the excellent dialog. Butcher has set incredibly high standards in her past works, and although this story line is compellingly different from the norm, it is not as complex, forceful or as memorable as her prior novels. That said, this is a must read for Butcher fans, and I number myself among them.

--Thea Davis

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