The Lawman's Last Stand

The Man Behind the Badge

Virgin Without a Memory

Her Last Defense
by Vickie Taylor
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1381, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27451-3
Her Last Defense is part of Vickie Taylor’s series on the Texas Rangers. Taylor’s fans will remember Ranger Clint Hayes who was severely injured by a gunshot in an earlier novel.

As this story opens, Clint is beginning to realize that his days as a ranger are over because of the neurological damage. He is at his grandfather’s cabin, putting off his day of reckoning, when he sees a small private jet crash in the woods nearby.

Clint and some of the very small town’s residents put out the fire and are cleaning up the wreckage when a helicopter from the Center For Disease Control lands. Aboard, heading the team is Dr. Macy Attois. The team arrives fully dressed in protective gear that would be common for a Level Four bio-hazard unit.

Hard to allay the rescuers’ fears while regaled in space suits and facemasks, it is Clint who throws his weight behind Macy to keep the townspeople from bolting. She essentially quarantines them until blood tests can reveal whether or not an ARFIS (Acute Respiratory Failure Infectious Syndrome) virus has infected them.

Malaysia is in the throes of an ARFIS epidemic and the CDC’s jet had 6 people aboard bringing the virus and an infected monkey from Malaysia to Atlanta. Supposedly, aboard the plane was David Brinker, Macy’s former fiancé.

Closer examination of the wreckage reveals three bodies and no monkey. Macy needs to find the monkey, although she is certain it will be dead because of the virulence of the virus. When they are searching, they discover the pilot has been shot and David is missing.

Bio-terrorism has become a common theme, but not so in the SIM line. The author is to be credited for her investment in a large amount of research time making the medical part of the story credible. What is less credible is the developing relationship between Clint and Macy. All but these two are very thinly developed and missing from Macy is background. The romance that blossoms between them arises only from the situation they are in and almost by default; there is insufficient time for a believable development of a relationship.

The plot evolves into something more than a missing monkey but the resolution comes too quickly and not very realistically. But the strengths of the story balance the weaknesses for an average read.

--Thea Davis

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