Catherine Coulter’s new novel, WHIPLASH, features the return of FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock. This time, the husband-and-wife team investigates the seemingly unrelated murders of several people.
Assisting them in their investigation is FBI Agent Bowie Richards, whose daughter, Georgie, is a dance student in Erin Pulaski’s class. Erin is not only a dance teacher but also a private investigator who has been hired by an old family friend, Yale professor Dr. Edward Kender, to find out why the chemotherapy drug Culovort, which his father needs to treat colon cancer, is suddenly in short supply. Dr. Kender doesn’t believe Schiffer Hartman Pharmaceutical’s story that the supply has been cut off because of the drug company’s miscalculations and misfortunes. After confronting Caskie Royal, the CEO of Schiffer Hartman’s American operations, with questions about the shortage, Dr. Kender thinks there’s more to the story.
And there is. Using the Internet, Erin does some digging into the company’s background and its supposed reasons for discontinuing the production of Culovort. There’s nothing much to read besides what she’s already been told. She needs solid proof that there is something else going on with the drug company, and she thinks she knows where to find it --- in Royal’s office. She breaks in using a set of lock picks that her father (a master lock-picker) gave her, and is then able to gain access to his computer files by guessing his password. What she finds is enough to nail Royal and the company.
But, of course, it’s not that simple; it never is. She gets away with the files, but shortly after the break-in, a body is discovered in the vicinity of Royal’s office. The corpse is that of Helmet Blauvelt, a German national who just happens to be an employee of Schiffer Hartman and has been sent from the German office to investigate the problem with the drug production at the American headquarters.
Savich, Lacey and Richards are called upon to investigate the murder, and they wonder if the same person who broke into Royal’s office killed Blauvelt. Initially they don’t suspect Erin knows anything about the case, but it eventually comes to light that she is in over her head when it comes to dealing with the pharmaceutical company.
I had never read any of Coulter’s previous books that feature Savich and Sherlock, so I was unfamiliar with this duo and how they work together. But the author did a good job of filling in the background information so I felt they weren’t “total strangers.” The story incorporates suspense, mystery, paranormal activities (FBI agent Dillon Savich makes contact with ghosts), romance and humor in a winning combination that is fast-paced and difficult to put down.
Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on January 24, 2011