Catherine Coulter’s Riptide is the fifth installment of her FBI series featuring married Agents Savich and Sherlock but despite their presence, the entire book made me wonder why I tried once again to give this previously gifted writer a chance to prove herself. While better than the last two books I reviewed by this author, I personally tire very quickly of invincible super-villains since I find the thrill in crime fiction is that it touches dangerously, yet safely, close to our lives. That definitely didn’t happen in this scenario as one of the bad guys managed to clobber the heroine on the head, push her away, leap to his feet, pull a cigarette lighter out of his pocket, and set the blanket and sheet on fire before one good guy could fire a gun.
That said, the essential story revolves around an up-and-coming political speechwriter, Becca Matlock who is terrorized by a stalker (known as the ‘boyfriend’), but who in actuality is a paid assassin attempting to lure her CIA father out of hiding. As threats continue against her Becca seeks the help of local law enforcement officials who believing that she has been intimate with the Governor actually consider her a suspect when he is shot. While the tension builds, Becca using a disguise and sporting a fake identity manages to escape a national manhunt and her stalker by fleeing to the nondescript little town of Riptide, Maine, where she reunites with her former college classmate, Tyler McBride. Here the plot thickens when it is revealed that Tyler may actually be a serial killer who is bent on murdering his female love interests who dare to question his smothering kind of love.
Enter Adam Carruthers, a private detective/bodyguard, hired by Becca’s long-supposedly-dead father, (Thomas who just happens to be a CIA operative) to protect her from his Cold War nemesis, Krimakov. To accomplish his mission Adam relies on the combined efforts of FBI agents Savich, Sherlock (from the Maze) and his own partner, Hatch, as well as, the information gathered for him by Thomas and Savich’s MAX computer program. None of these bumbling keystone cops can prevent, however, Becca being kidnapped by the stalker who first drugs her and then psychologically terrorizes her before dumping her in front of police headquarters.
What probably bothered me most through the whole story, however, was how poorly Coulter developed her characters an example of which occurs when the female protagonist becomes excitable upon seeing a skeleton, but soon after boldly engages in a gunfight with a lunatic. Additionally there are several instances when the dialogue is so stilted and unbelievable that it reads like a first draft that has not been edited. One such example of the work’s repetitiveness of ideas and thoughts occurs when Becca (in chapter five) talks not once but several times about the anticipated storm only to act like it is such a surprise when it actually occurs and the electricity goes out. Coulter does not stop there, however, as in Chapter 6 (on both pages 45 and 48); she has Becca again wondering if she had only come to Maine to be killed in a “wretched storm”. I could continue but my personal opinion is that anyone who thought this book – with it’s convoluted plot(s) and inane, unrealistic dialogue and narrative – a good read has never read a really good book. You can use your Google search engine to locate other books of intrigue and suspense.
[tags]book review, Riptide, Catherine Coulter, Romance, suspense, mystery, Google, FBI[/tags]