Publisher, Inc., 2002
Holden has a Ph.D in Political Science and that expertise is apparent
in her new novel, Gracie’s Last Smile.
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
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.