In Search of Dreams

Meant for Each Other

The Prodigal Daughter

The Witness by Ginna Gray
(Mira, $5.99, PG) ISBN1-55166-832-7
Laureen Brownly was a child prodigy who matured to a gifted concert pianist with the world at her feet. Her career came to an abrupt halt when her hand was severely damaged in an accident and she lost the ability to perform at the concert level. Laureen’s loss was accompanied by the desertion of her manager and fiancé, who took her assets when he fled.

Claiming to be a patron of the arts, drug overlord Carlo Giovessi came to Laureen’s rescue. He helped her find an apartment, a car, a music instructorship at a local college and a part time job playing the piano in his upscale dinner club. Incredibly naive, Laureen lived in her $3000 per month apartment paying only $300 in rent, drove a Lexus which she thought was a suitable used car, and felt she was doing well in her need to be self-supporting and independent. Playing special concerts for Carlo seemed a small way to repay his generosity.

Laureen’s life took another dramatic turn when she accidentally witnessed Carlo killing one of his lieutenants. Escaping through a restroom window, she threw herself into the arms of the police, who then involved the FBI.

Enter Sam Grey Wolfe Rawlins, special agent with the unenviable assignment of trying to locate the FBI agent who Carlo obviously must have within the ranks of the FBI. Sam is strong, assertive, capable, handsome and imbued with an attitude that offends all. His boss grabs the opportunity to dead end him in the job of protecting Laureen, their only witness, until Carlo’s trial.

What ensues is a chase that really starts when the small airplane they are using to leave Denver has an engine explosion and they crash in the Colorado Rockies. Miraculously, Sam and Laureen survive; the pilot and other agent do not. They head off in a snowstorm looking for shelter, Carlo’s goons in hot pursuit (as a result of a simple homing device that conveniently remained intact after the crash).

The chase is seemingly never-ending as Sam and Laureen meet one obstacle after another. Perhaps because it appeared so endless, there was never a feeling of urgency or threat communicated.

Gray is touted for “her well-known ability to develop plot lines involving complex family dynamics.” I found this totally lacking in this book. She developed Sam by his vituperative dialogue in an attempt to create tension with Laureen. That, of course, was based on a big misunderstanding because Sam had erroneously concluded Laureen was Carlo’s mistress.

Sam’s emotional baggage, which defines his estimation of himself within the Native American culture, is also a result of another big misunderstanding, but if you blink you miss the resolution of this. Laureen is the best developed character, but her dialogue, if not naďve could be kindly regarded as sophomoric which in point of contrast with Sam’s sarcasm is equally wearing.

If you are a reader who revels in slow paced suspense with essentially only two characters to really keep up with, one of whom is unlikable and the other not credible, then this book is for you…other readers should try some of Ginna Gray’s other works.

--Thea Davis

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