Author: Catherine Coulter
Michael Joseph RRP $29.99 (eBook $14.99)
Review: Monique Mulligan

Backfire (FBI Thriller, #16)Backfire is the latest in a long line of FBI suspense thrillers featuring agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich, but it’s the first one I’ve read. It surprised me to find that author Catherine Coulter has written 68 novels (historical romances and suspense thrillers), 60 of which were New York Times bestsellers. Now that I’ve read Backfire, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of Coulter’s work.

Married agents Sherlock and Dillon are on alert after a mysterious note is delivered to the Hoover Building saying “You deserve this for what you did”. Security tapes fail to reveal who delivered the note and Dillon can’t think why it was sent to him personally. When he hears that his longtime friend, San Francisco Judge Ramsey Hunt, has been shot in his home, Savich starts to wonder if the two are connected.

At the time of the shooting, Hunt is presiding over a sensational murder trial. He is not sure that the proceedings are entirely legit, but it’s when he questions the federal prosecutor Mickey O’Rourke that things start to go wrong. First, the prosecutor goes missing. Next, Hunt is shot while standing in garden late at night. Who is behind the shooting of the Judge, fondly known by many as Judge Dredd? Who sent the note to Savich? And what does it all mean?

Savich and Sherlock race to San Francisco to investigate, beginning by interviewing the prime suspects in the murder trial Hunt was overseeing. The name Sue is let slip by one suspect and the investigators, backed up by a team of local law enforcement figures, feel as if they have a credible lead. When O’Rourke’s body is found and two young eyewitnesses speak of seeing a man bury the prosecutor, the team wonders if they are on the wrong track. Could a woman have done this? Is there more than one person involved? For every answer Savich and Sherlock come up with, another question takes its place … and the shocks keep coming.

Although I was new to the series, I found the story easy to follow; Backfire can easily be read as a stand alone book. If anything, starting the series at the beginning would add more depth to the characters – the reader would have more of an understanding of their backstories and relationships.

Backfire starts off at a cracking pace and doesn’t falter. It’s a plot-driven action thriller with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers hooked. Relationships take a backseat to the action (there’s a developing romantic sub-plot between US Federal Marshall Eve Barbieri, also a close friend of Hunt, and Agent Harry Christoff), but still get a look-in without deflecting from the action.

Available from good bookstores and Penguin Australia. This book was courtesy of Penguin Australia.

Bookish treat: Crackers – pick your favourite sort – for a cracker of a read.




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