Terms of Surrender
by Kylie Brant
(SRS #1533, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373 27603-5
***
Kylie Brant continues to infuse originality into her plots and into her characters. Set in Metro City, the action starts at the scene of a bank robbery by a single perpetrator, who holds a lobby full of customers and employees hostage. Alpha Squad takes control with its component part, their Hostage Negotiator Team.

Dace Recker is a veteran negotiator who has just been assigned a new partner, who is to meet him at the scene.  He is more than dismayed to find his new partner is Jolie Conrad, a woman he hoped never to see again. They have a poignant history, specifically they had a child who died of SIDS. Both reacted with guilt and, not having been together for a long enough time to understand each other, their relationship shattered.  She moved away and Dace had lost track of her.

Jolie quickly establishes a rapport with the robber and starts the give and take of negotiations. In exchange for the release of some hostages. a car is provided at the back entrance of the bank. An old ploy, as the Swat team snipers are strategically placed in that area. The FBI sweeps in and takes control of the negotiation, as this is just one more of many of the same patterned bank heists. The robber suddenly does make a break for the car, but to the surprise of the team, another car rushes up to help him make good his escape. A sniper bullet hits him in his thigh as he launches for the car.

The criminal gets away, and unknown to the team the bullet nicked the artery; despite a later kidnapped doctor’s best efforts, the criminal dies. His accomplices include a half brother who vows to avenge and punish the law enforcement officers involved.

Starting with the sharpshooter, he systematically starts picking off the local officers. Jolie and Dace are nearly killed and become high priority targets, and with Jolie’s consent and against Dace’s violent objections, she becomes the bait.

Jolie had fled with the understanding that she truly did not deserve to be happy, and when the mother who had abandoned her to foster homes contracted cancer, she returned to Metro to care for her. Trixie redefines dysfunctional mother and as a crack addict she is constantly stealing and scheming to find ways to support her needs.

Dace had only known that Jolie had no family, so the revelations that come from meeting and being around Trixie begin to clarify the Jolie he had never truly understood.  A subtle and effective way for an author to develop a character…because at the same time with Dace’s newly acquired knowledge comes the change in his developing character.

Perhaps, because this series runs to fewer pages than the old Intimate Moments series, the plot resolution is rushed, thereby leaving the reader with the feeling of a contrived ending. However, the strength of the novel is in the reader empathy with the rekindled romance of Jolie and Dace.

--Thea Davis


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