If you have ever read a Stuart Woods thriller featuring Special
Agent Holly Barker, then you know that vacation is not a word or
concept that you associate with her. But when her boss mandates
that she take one month off after letting international terrorist
Teddy Fay slip through her fingers, Holly is forced to retreat to
her home in Orchid Beach, Florida. The break is short-lived,
though, when bodies of raped women begin appearing all over town,
thrusting Holly back into her old job. And to make matters worse,
she learns that her nemesis from her Army years, James Bruno, has
taken over her old position as police chief. Bruno is a despicable
man who had tried to rape her once.
Shortly after settling in to her home, Holly suffers another
attempted rape. Is this all a coincidence? Bad luck? Or is it all
connected somehow? Whatever the case, she soon decides that she
must do something fast; the bodies are piling up, and she may be
The perpetrator of these horrendous acts, we soon learn, is
either a cop or merely posing as one. This role allows the man to
stop his prey in a secluded spot when they have some kind of car
trouble. After he does so, he administers a date-rape drug, disarms
his target, and from there continues with his disgusting deed. And
like many serial killers, he keeps souvenirs. As the victims start
to amass, the murderer is becoming bolder, self-assured, and, worst
of all, fearless.
However, Holly’s problems don’t end there, as Teddy
Fay appears in Orchid Beach under the assumed name “Jack
Smithson.” When his new girlfriend, local realtor Adele
Mason, is suddenly raped and killed, eyes turn to Fay as the most
likely suspect of the killings. It’s almost as though
Orchid Beach is a haven for damaged individuals, or perhaps
it’s just a magnet for intrigue. But whatever the case, big
things are going down there, and forces are about to collide.
The author of 42 books, 40 of which are fiction, Stuart Woods
has penned five thrillers featuring Holly Barker. I am impressed
with how HOTHOUSE ORCHID flows. It is jam-packed with conflict,
characters you can believe, and plenty of page-turning action.
There are more twists and turns here than Lake Shore Drive in
Chicago before they removed the S-curves. This is a book that you
can (and probably will) read in one sitting; I double-dog dare you
to try to put it down.
Reviewed by Marge Fletcher on January 22, 2011