Our of Nowhere by Doris Mortman
(Kensington, $23.95, G) ISBN 1-57566-301-5
****
Coming from Out of Nowhere is a myriad of plot threads that Doris Mortman has twisted into an incredibly complex novel of intrigue.

Divorcee and banker Cynthia Blair and her small daughter Erica were living in Miami when Cynthia discovered a very large money laundering operation. Cynthia's evidence, and later her testimony, were critical in the conviction of a powerful Colombian drug lord.

During the trial, the U.S. Marshals provide Cynthia and Erica with psychiatric evaluations and counseling that will help to prepare them for their new life in the Witness Protection Program. At the conclusion of the trial, a fake death scene is arranged and Cynthia and Erica enter the program. Most of the first quarter of the book is devoted to a description of life in the Witness Protection Program. It is not a pretty picture, and it is small wonder that many people who enter the program develop symptoms of paranoia.

When Erica (now known as Amanda Fowler) reaches her twenties she leaves the program to try to establish a life of her own. Drawing on her experience in photography, which she has refined through education, she becomes a forensic photographer for the NYPD. Before long, her duties bring her into contact with Jake Fowler, a private investigator. Jake is not your average Sam Spade. He's an attorney who has an uptown private investigation firm.

Taking a chance, Amanda contacts her father, Lionel Baird, a very rich and powerful investment banker she hasn't seen since childhood,. They renew their relationship in clandestine meetings.

When, after an unexplained delay, the Marshals inform her that the Colombian drug lord is out of prison, Amanda's paranoia intensifies. A short time later, Lionel is found dead, an apparent suicide. Amanda knows he has been murdered, but only she sees the long arm of revenge.

This is just a glimmering of the story; there are many more characters and subplots to discover. The easy way in which the author weaves all of these threads into a logical and reasonable conclusion is to be admired.

Out of Nowhere is fast paced with artfully developed characters, The romance is very secondary to the plot and starts fairly late in the book The very nature of the story prohibits the development of kind of trust so critical in establishing a powerful romance. When the romance does begin, there is a wariness and distrust on both sides, so it is able to progress no faster than the story itself.

There are certainly better love stories, but few novels in the intrigue genre could surpass this one.

--Thea Davis


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