Just Around the Corner

The Secret Son

Somebody's Baby

White Picket Fences

 
In Plain Sight
by Tara Taylor Quinn
(MIRA, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-7783-2308-2
***
Tara Taylor Quinn departs from the format established in her Shelter Valley books and offers a romantic suspense story. Set in Arizona In Plain Sight portrays a fight against racial terrorism from the prosecutorís viewpoint.

Jan McNeil is an experienced prosecutor having been in this role for years. During that time she became aware of the insidious tentacles of the Ivory Nation and she is presently prosecuting one of its members, Jacob Hall.† A local cop has been working with her and her trusted employee, Andrew, to build a case against the Ivory Nation itself.

Living next door to Jan is Simon Green, an ex-cop who has reduced his life to writing technical manuals. He blames himself for the death of his twin brother and only recently had been lured into the fringes of law enforcement when he agreed to try and find out whether or not a terrorist training camp exists in the area.

Simon is very aware of Jan and her comings and goings but has never made an effort to get to know her. If he had he would have realized that at the time that the pace is accelerating in her work life she is also trying to adopt Hailey, a troubled child she had run across in Juvenile Court.

On her own family front, Jan has a mother of precarious mental health, a remote brother, and a troubled psyche, evidenced by her frequent nightmares. Suddenly her world begins to fray when her mother allegedly commits suicide and her brother pops up in her life again.

On the work front, her case against Hall is at risk when the detective gets caught in a lie about the gender of his reliable informant. She escapes the near trap at the same time new avenues open up in her case. Avenues which demonstrate that the scope of the Ivory Nation is far greater than anticipated.

The interaction with Hailey and Janís relationship with Simon are major areas of interest that the writer keeps working into the plot. It is slightly disconcerting, as they all seem to be very separate areas, connected only through Jan. The integration is a bit weak and the reader has trouble staying involved.

So instead of a complex integrated plot, the story proceeds on three or four separate fronts. With this mechanism it is hard to sustain tension, and character development opportunities are limited.† The inner dialog is often repetitive as characters are working through their particular angsts and worries. Although set in Arizona, the reader barely realizes this, as scene description is not an area that seems important.

Still, In Plain Sight is an interesting read and does reflect the demands upon a prosecutor well.

--Thea Davis


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