Deadly Memories by Susan Vaughan
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1430, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27500-7
Sebastian Vadim, a native of Cleatia and an established criminal, is a man of many aliases and felonious endeavors. People who cross him pay with their lives and his reputation is built on many of these incidences. One such incident occurred five years earlier when Vadim murdered the ex-wife and son of Jack Thorn, US Marshal, in retribution for Jack not cooperating with him.

Jack then transferred from the Marshals’ office to ATSA, an anti-terrorism security agency, and spent the years since plotting the destruction of Vadim. Success is close, as he has now been posted outside Vadim’s Italian villa, watching him with his co-workers who believe Vadim has a stash of enriched uranium, they want to seize.

Weeks prior, one of Vadim’s cousins had brought him a lead lined toolbox full of granules. Foolishly, the cousin had stolen them believing the granules were uncut diamonds. Instead it was enriched uranium. Vadim killed his cousin and started negotiating for its sale.

Chance has thrown a perfect “mule” Vadim’s way. Sophie Rinaldi is referred to him by a contact in the States. He arranged for her luggage to be lost, her money stolen, credit cards blocked, and then comes dashing to the rescue. He is providing a place for her to stay until she receives enough money to get back to the States. The sale completed, his plan was going to have her unknowingly transport the uranium to the buyer in London. She overhears the telephone conversation outlining the details to the buyer and flees the house.

Suspecting Sophie overheard the conversation, Vadim tries to run over her with his car, but Jack Thorn intervenes and saves her life, getting her to the hospital quickly. Recovering, the doctors diagnose Sophie’s loss of memory as traumatic amnesia, assuring her the memory may come back. Vadim makes another attempt on her life in the hospital and the story moves into an old tried and true plot line; of course Jack becomes her guard and protector.

More attempts are made to kill her and Jack and Sophie run, hustling through Italian towns and cities. The strength of the book is in the interesting and compelling descriptions of places like Venice and the Italian countryside.

The giant weakness is that although the plot is a simple one, the pure mechanics of getting from point A (crisis) to B (rescue) are handled in a few sentences, when pages and pages would be necessary to be convincing. The many escapes and scenarios are inventive but much too ambitious to be credibly handled in this story.

Although Jack first believes Sophie’s amnesia is too convenient to be real, he gradually becomes persuaded she is not faking it, paralleling the gradual falling for her. To add to the mix, he has almost destroyed himself from the guilt he harbors for his family’s death, and Sophie is on a quest to find herself.

The ending is no surprise; it is the getting there that is meant to be entertaining and in places it is, mainly because the characters are memorable.

--Thea Davis

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