Three times . . . three times I closed Riptide, telling myself that
I wasn't going to finish it. Each time something different irked me.
Obviously my curiosity was stronger than my reluctance to read, because
when I picked up Riptide for the fourth time, I kept reading.
Riptide is the next book in Coulter's law-enforcement series, with
some old favorites making their standard reappearance. Becca Matlock is a
senior speech writer for the governor of New York. Her life is turned on
its axis when she begins receiving phone calls from a man intent on cat and
mouse games. He always identifies himself as her boyfriend and begins to
stalk her. Even after an innocent woman is murdered and the governor
wounded, the police don't believe her. So she does the only thing she knows
to do; she runs.
Riptide, Maine is Becca's destination. Tyler McBride, a college friend from Riptide, who still lives there, had described the place as his haven. With streets named Belladonna Drive, West Hemlock and Poison Oak Circle, it seemed closer to Stepford than to Beaver Cleaver's neighborhood. When Becca finds a skeleton of a young woman in the basement
of her newly purchased home, I speculated how close Riptide was to Salem's
Lot, Maine. Weird places up there.
As the plot unfolds, Becca is going to be in for heavy-duty shocks. Her
father, whom she had thought was dead, is actually a biggie in the CIA
who'd distanced himself from his family for their safety. With his
connections, he sends Adam Carruthers to covertly protect Becca. In a scene
that's highly entertaining, Becca confronts Adam, at first believing him to
be the stalker. Kung fu hi-jinks follow, with Adam besting Becca, but just
So, who's the bad guy? Is it a stalker who's picked Becca on a whim? A
psycho who's mad at the governor? Is it her father's Cold War enemy? And
who killed the young woman in Becca's basement?
The first fifty pages or so of Riptide were too staccato, jumping
from the stalker, Becca's ill mother all the way to police who seemed to
have an Attitude regarding her. The writing itself was staccato,
occasionally so jarring that I stopped to see if I'd read something
correctly. What probably bothered me most, though, through the whole story
and what seemed to be the most fictitious was Becca's transformation from a
seemingly smart woman to a person who wanted to be involved Up Close And
Personal in the capture of the villain, a guy who murders with no
compunction. When she becomes Adam's backup man, I felt sorry for Adam.
Being proactive is fine, but not when it becomes foolish and imprudent.
My favorite parts of Riptide were those that included Savich and
Sherlock, the leads from The Maze. They've been recurring secondary
characters in each of Coulter's books since then. However, $23.95 is
too high a price to pay just to get bits and pieces updates on these two.
Becca and Adam were fun to read about, but they, too, were given less
importance than all of the plot twists and turns.
Heavier on the suspense than on the romance, Riptide is plot-driven.
Character motivations are secondary to the fast-paced but sometimes
too-contrived actions. And when I, who lack the logical ability to piece
clues together, know who bad guys A and B are, then something's just too
simplistic. If Becca and Adam had been given more print space and if some
of the questionable, unconvincing actions had made sense instead, then
Riptide would have been a real page-turner.
Riptide is not a ripoff, but if Coulter continues to produce books
in this vein, then I'm not so sure that ‘ripoff' won't apply.