Every reporter dreams of the story that will take his or her
career out of the local news media and into the national media.
However, most do not anticipate actually being an integral part of
that story. In STANDOFF, Sandra Brown's latest novel, Tiel McCoy
does just that.
Tiel is an ambitious television news reporter for a local southwest
station. She is taking some much needed, but forced, vacation,
driving through New Mexico to a mountain resort. As usual, she has
the radio tuned to an all news station when she hears that the
teenage daughter of a Texas millionaire has been kidnapped by her
boyfriend. Tiel is in line for a major promotion as anchor of a new
news show, and doesn't want to miss her chance to show the network
what she can do, much less allow a rival reporter to get the edge
on the promotion. She stops at a convenience store to call her
editor, requesting that she be allowed to postpone her vacation and
investigate the story. Just after receiving the assignment to
interview the kidnapper's father who lives en route to her
vacation, the kidnapper and his victim enter the store intending to
Ronnie Davison has not kidnapped Sabra Denby. In reality, the
teenage couple is in love, and Sabra is pregnant with their baby.
They are fleeing from her controlling father, who, when informed of
the pregnancy, threatened to destroy Ronnie and put the baby up for
adoption. The teenagers are on their way to Mexico, bypassing
Ronnie's father who has offered to help them. Short on cash, they
decide to rob the convenience store. However, in the middle of the
robbery, Sabra's water breaks and she goes into labor, forcing them
to remain there and take all witnesses hostage.
Among the hostages is a local rancher known as Doc, a well-known
oncologist who left his practice after his wife died. Although he
won't admit to his medical training, his experience shows when he
takes over the care of Sabra during her labor. By the time the FBI
and local authorities are on the scene, he has correctly assessed
that Sabra was suffering complications from her labor. Instead of
sending in the requested obstetrician, the FBI sends in an
undercover agent who knows nothing about childbirth and who only
creates more chaos when he attempts to rescue Sabra. Tiel knocks
him out by hitting him over the head with a can of chili. No one is
seriously injured by the resulting gunfire, but a bullet grazes
Eventually, Sabra gives birth to a daughter, with Tiel and Doc's
help. However she bleeds heavily, further complicating matters.
Neither she nor Ronnie are willing to surrender as long as her
father, outside with the FBI, insists she and Ronnie separate and
relinquish the baby. In addition, the other hostages are becoming
more and more edgy, especially two Mexicans, one of whom turns out
to be on the FBI's and Immigration and Naturalization's most wanted
lists for importing and selling illegal laborers to farmers.
Throughout, Tiel, with Doc's help, must maintain calm while
negotiating for everyone's safe release.
Sandra Brown has once again written a suspense novel with a strong
protagonist. Tiel, throughout the novel, has to balance her desire
for "getting the story" with staying undercover and hoping she and
the other hostages are released safely. She must also come to terms
with the fact that, as in the case of Doc, not all aspects of a
story need to be told
Reviewed by Debbie Ann Weiner on January 23, 2011