Code Name: Cowboy

Man on a Mission

Once Forbidden

Out of Exile

The Perfect Family

Rodeo Dad

Rules of Engagement

Strangers When We Married

 
Safety in Numbers
by Carla Cassidy
(Silh. Rom. Susp. #1463, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27533-5
***
Safety in Numbers is a continuation of Carla Cassidy's Wild West Bodyguard series. Set in Cotter Creek, Oklahoma, the series spotlights the Wild West Protective Service. Formed by the father and now including all of his children, it is an agency that has received national acclaim, involved as it were in detecting (in a prior novel) a plot to secure title to the land in the area, by those who were arranging accidental deaths of the owners.

The plot had been uncovered, but the mastermind was still unknown, thus multiple US agency representatives had descended upon the area to identify, arrest and prosecute him. Numbering among them is Chase McCall, who has been sent undercover to determine if the West family is in reality involved in the nefarious plot.

The prologue quickly alerts the reader that this story will also eventually solve the murder of patriarch Red West’s wife, which occurrence had sparked the formation of his Protective Service years ago. He has one daughter among his four sons now involved, and Meredith is the spitting image of her mother. The mentally ill murderer is still around has lost the distinction between mother and daughter; he has now set his goals upon the daughter.

Chase arrives posing as a friend of Dalton West to spend some vacation time. The Wests put them up in their home so surveillance becomes pathetically easy. Meredith, although well trained in the security business, has become uneasy, feeling she is being watched at strange times. Business has slowed down, so she has decided to take this time to get her mother's murder investigation file to try and solve the old homicide. Unbelievably, it is handed over to her.

Meredith begins receiving mysterious, weird and semi threatening notes, and coincidentally her father decides it is time to let her go through her mother's packed up possessions. The plot of course thickens when she finds similar notes in her mother's things.

Chase is there to help and the sexual tension runs parallel to the heightening tension caused by the stalker's accelerating pace. Characters are fairly well delineated, and there is a sub plot involving Chase's much older FBI partner Kathy and the family retainer, Smokey, who had helped their father rear them.

The weakest part of Safety in Numbers is the feeling that arises from everything fitting together a little too neatly, that of a not so artfully contrived plot with a not so artful contrived ending. Still, if you are a Carla Cassidy fan this should round out the business of the Wild West Protective Service now that all siblings have had their own story.

 

--Thea Davis


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