Prather’s Pick: An FBI thriller
“Insidious” might be a word used to describe an individual who is treacherous, sly or underhanded (or all three). It is also the title of this week’s FBI thriller. “Insidious” was written by Catherine Coulter, a New York Times bestselling author of a bunch of FBI thrillers, including three novels with J.T. Ellison.
Coulter’s newest novel begins in Las Vegas. That’s where the reader meets Marty Sallas, a thief, who has plans to steal an emerald-and-diamond bracelet from a beautiful showgirl nicknamed “Legs.” Marty had seen a guy give her the necklace at the Mandalay. Marty already knows how he’s going to do with the money when he sells the necklace.
So Marty follows Molly Harbinger home and waits for her to go to bed. Then he plans to put a chloroform mask over her face, and when she passes out he will find the bracelet (maybe even on her nightstand).
But things don’t go so well for Marty. First, Molly gets a visit from her former boyfriend, Tommy. She gets rid of him, but then Marty hears a motorcycle. It’s just someone coming to give Tommy a ride. Finally, everything’s quiet. Marty lets himself in the house, but he gets another surprise — a bad one — because someone else is in Molly’s bedroom, and he has slit her throat.
Marty escapes, cutting his hand as he dives through a window. While he’s at the ER getting stitched up he thinks things over. If the killer got a look at his face, Marty may be the next victim.
As the events of the novel get started, the reader also meets Missy Devereaux. She’s in Las Vegas to perform in a Beatles musical. One afternoon she spots a man watching her. She thinks he’s a stalker who followed her to Las Vegas. Missy is sick and tired of the stalker so she decides to do something about it. She chases him down and leaps on top of him. Missy has a Ka-Bar, and she threatens his life. Now the police have him. The reader will encounter Missy again.
Now the novel moves to the Criminal Apprehension Unit of the Hoover Building in Washington D.C. That’s where FBI Special Agent Cam Wittier is meeting with Special Agent Dillon Savich. It turns out that Molly Harbinger’s brutal murder was committed by the Starlet Slasher, a serial killer who has slit the throats of five women. All of them have occurred in the L.A. area, same as Molly’s. And now they have a lead, too, since Marty went to the ER.
Savich wants Cam to work with Detective Montoya and Sheriff Dreyfus to solve this serial murder case. So Cam is off for L.A. Meanwhile, Savich gets a call from eighty-six-year-old Venus Rasmussen. Despite her age, she runs Rasmussen Industries. She’s a very influential person, and Savich has known her a long time. (The cover of this week’s novel is a Venus’ fly-trap.)
Venus tells Savich that she believes someone is trying to poison her. She has been severely ill on three recent occasions, each one worse than the other. So Savich and Sherlock, a female FBI Special Agent) have their own case to investigate.
There are lots of possible suspects, including son Guthrie, grandson Alexander, daughter Hildi and her daughter Glynis, housekeeper Isabel Grant (who has been with Venus “since Moses), cook Mr. Paul, driver MacPherson, and companion Veronica. Recently Venus has located another grandson, Rob.
The situation at the Rasmussen mansion becomes even more critical when someone tries to shoot Venus. She’s in the Bentley at the time, and MacPherson saves the day when he aims the car straight at the killer. Savich happens to be in the area at the time so they nab the would-be killer.
So, there’s a lot going on in this novel that promises to provide plenty of twists.
“Insidious,” published by Gallery Books (2016) costs about $27 in hardcover. It can also be found with new books at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.
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