Always Time to Die

Beautiful Dreamer

Blue Smoke & Murder

Die in Plain Sight

Eden Burning

Innocent as Sin

Jade Island

Midnight at Ruby Bayou

Moving Target

Pearl Cove

To the Ends of the Earth

 
Death Echo
by Elizabeth Lowell
(Wm. Morrow, $24.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-06-162975-4
****
Death Echo is vintage Elizabeth Lowell in every respect. Characterized by intensive research, snappy and often flip dialogue between well developed characters with all too realistic and complex plots set within an environment she knows and obviously loves.

Death Echo features the elite St. Kilda's security consultants headed by Ambassador Steele and a bevy of brilliant agents who often work at odds with the interfighting of US security agencies. This time it is different as "one who must be feared" in one of those agencies appeals directly to Steele for assistance. A terrorist plot has been uncovered which guarantees that a U.S. port city will be attacked by chemical, biological or nuclear weapons within a week.

Steele involves former CIA agent Emma Cross in the initial conference as she has spent much of the last year tracing yachts lost at sea in transit from the manufacturer for the maritime insurer. The US Agency believes that the yacht Blackbird, a yacht that is the exact duplicate of another ship reported missing a year earlier in transit from Vladivostok to Portland may be the instrument of the terrorists. †Emma locates it as it is being unloaded from the cargo container ship at sea, identifies the transit captain and then finds the Blue Water Marine Group in the small town of Rosario acting for the owners.

Mac Durand is the transit captain, a former CIA employee who had worked many dangerous operations with his team, only to quit after bad intel from the CIA resulted in the death of all of his †team except himself. Steele directs Emma to recruit him. It is clear she would never have succeeded except Mac's childhood frien,d who had been hired by Blue Water as the next transit captain employed to deliver Blackbird to the real owner, is brutally murdered.

Mac agrees to work for St. Kilda for this project and when Blue Water has to hire him instead of his deceased friend he signs on. As the yacht is being fitted with US made electronics, there is a gathering of the unsavory in the small port, each with a different agenda. Taras Demidov is an employee of the ruthless who formerly ran the Soviet Union. Shurik Temuri is the shadowy owner of the newly arrived Blackbird and is to be found with Lovich and Amanar apparent co-owners of Blue Water.

Mac is hired to transport the yacht north into Canadian waters at which time he is to be given further instructions. Along the way in addition to the developing attraction between Emma and Mac, the time is utilized by Mac to teach Emma how to handle the large yacht should something happen to him. The authorís research is obvious at this point and if you are a "yachtie" or someone who loves any form of boating this may well become your favorite novel to reread. However, if you are a drylander, much of the instruction time may be as interesting to you as a yachting manual.

The action then escalates at breakneck speed with unexpected twists that demonstrate again how very clever the gifted ElizabethLowell is as she constructs a romantic suspense novel that has extraordinary pacing, well developed new characters interlaced with favorites from her other novels.

--Thea Davis


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