The Courtship

The Deception

The Edge

Pendragon

Riptide

The Scottish Bride

The Target

 
Hemlock Bay by Catherine Coulter
(Jove, $7.99, PG) ISBN 0-515-13330-2
***
Hemlock Bay, Catherine Coulter's latest FBI thriller, features two strong storylines. The first involves FBI Special Agent Dillon Savich who is tracking a dangerous serial killer. Tammy Tuttle is one scary young woman; she seems to possess talents fans of the TV show The X-Files might appreciate. The other storyline involves Savich's sister, Lily, and it's traditional romantic suspense.

FBI Special Agent Dillon Savich has cornered the Tuttles, two vicious serial killers who kidnap young boys and kill them. Dillon is shocked when he finds their latest victims tied together in a barn while the Tuttles exhort the "Ghouls" to come and kill the boys. He saves the boys by killing one of the Tuttles and maiming the other.

Dillon is surprised to learn the Tuttle that he maimed is a young woman. Tammy Tuttle is very dangerous and very scary. She escapes the hospital where she is being treated for the loss of her arm and no one knows how she did it.

While Dillon is tracking the Tuttles, his sister, Lily is trying to remember what happened before she lost control of her car and crashed into a tree. Lily's husband and his family are convinced that she is suicidal due to the loss of her daughter, but Lily doesn't believe she tried to kill herself and Dillon supports her.

Dillon finds a few million reasons why Lily's husband and family might benefit from Lily’s death - in the very valuable paintings she inherited from their grandmother, Sarah Elliot, a famous artist. Lily decides to leave Hemlock Bay and her husband; she heads for Washington D.C. with her paintings.

A good friend of Dillon's, Simon Russo, takes one look at Lily's paintings and informs her that some of them are copies. Simon is an expert on Sarah Elliot's paintings and he has all kinds of connections in the art world. He is willing to help Lily recover her missing paintings; Simon is also very attracted to her.

But Lily is a two-time loser when it comes to love and marriage. She doesn't feel she can pick a good man and doesn't want to get involved with the very handsome and charming Simon.

Dillon wants to help Lily but when Tammy Tuttle escapes, he knows he has to find Tammy before she starts another killing spree. Tammy seems to possess the ability to elude all of his best operatives; Dillon is not sure anyone can stop her.

While the romantic suspense in Hemlock Bay is entertaining, more could have been done with the serial killer storyline. Tammy is frightening; however for me to be biting my nails I need to believe that Tammy is going to do awful things to Dillon and his family. Tammy needs to use her powers to play a game of cat and mouse with Dillon and his wife - as if he was toying with them before she decides to kill them.

Although I can't say either of Hemlock Bay's storylines is fresh or original, there are some genuinely suspenseful moments. And I did get caught up in Lily's story.

While I was a little frustrated at how the storylines alternate between chapters toward the end of the book, it was a good kind of frustration. Ms. Coulter effectively uses this writing technique so that the suspense keeps building and readers keep turning the pages.

--Judith Flavell


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