SterlingHouse Publisher, Inc., 2002
ISBN: I-56315-284-3
Carole Holden has a Ph.D in Political Science and that expertise is apparent in her new novel, Gracie’s Last Smile. The ideas are broad and the story is expansive.
        This story is nothing without its setting. Ancient cities come alive. She carves the lines of Turkey, Hungary, and Israel as if they are her own hands, comforting and familiar. Gracie’s Last Smile begins with a night in Budapest’s breathtaking opera house. For the American president, it’s a night that is transformed into a nightmare when her teenage daughter is kidnapped.
        Izabella Benzcur is an FBI agent with a disspiriting past. She’s a former kidnap victim who is familiar with the dark smells and musty spaces of a world with no guarantees—a world at the mercy of another. She becomes obsessed with saving Gracie.
        This is the story of blackmail, crime, war, and politics. It is occasionlly predictable, but that’s not unusual in fiction of this sort. A story like this has to maintain a certain speed. It’s got to keep the wind in its sails while carefully maintaining control of its charaacters. And it does just that, floating along at a comfortable speed.
        Dr. Holden has played the main players just right. Izabella—victimized by her own past, and tough as nails. There’s Frank, her supervisor and anchor. He’s also a love interest; the chemistry between the two builds throughout the story. And CW is the crook who foils the good and gains more power than he can handle. And, obviously, the story revolves around Gracie—the American President’s daughter. Her sweetness is palpable. Just as any seventeen-year-old American girl’s would be.
        Ms. Holden writes with a confidence that is rare in new authors. Skill shines through the ink on these pages. Some of the dialogue is trite, some adjectives lackluster, but these are mere bricks in a foundation that is decidedly strong. She weaves several stories into one: a love story but one that is surrounded by political intrigue; a crime that is surrounded by issues even larger than kidnapping. We trust her hand to guide us into a world that we know nothing about. Though this story isn’t unique—it reminds me of a nice Sunday drive—the combination of skill and tact create an enjoyable, if static, experience.