Cover image for Out of reach
Out of reach
Lewin, Patricia.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
293 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
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In her acclaimed debut Blind Run , Patricia Lewin proved her brilliant command of heart-stopping tales of suspense--and the staggering human emotions that go with them. Now in Out of Reach , Lewin returns with a gripping new thriller--a beguiling story of a man and a woman entering a battle against an unseen evil . . . the kind that targets the most innocent among us.A rising star in the CIA, Erin Baker is driven by a tragedy from her past. When she was a child, her eight-year-old sister, Claire, was kidnapped. Though Claire was miraculously found, she was changed forever. As was Erin, who now just might get what she's always wanted most: the chance to make a difference in someone's life. But she must be willing to risk everything she holds dear.A covert officer overseas, Erin now works stateside in the world's most sophisticated intelligence-gathering organization. But her life takes an unexpected turn when she spots an ice cream vendor performing magic tricks for kids. She has seen this man before--the day her sister disappeared. Obtaining access to records few are allowed to see, Erin pries open her sister's cold kidnapping case. With her arsenal of data banks and espionage techniques, Erin hopes to finally bring the criminal to justice. When a boy disappears near her home, Erin is certain there is a link between the two cases. She meets Alec Donovan, an FBI agent on the hunt to find the missing child, whose record for locating missing children is unquestioned. Suddenly Alec and Erin find themselves on a desperate pursuit--from the streets of America's most peaceful neighborhoods to a horrifying underworld where children are stolen and trafficked. And as they get closer to the truth, they make their own lives, and the lives of everyone they love, into perfect targets for a killer.With its deeply-drawn characters, relentless pace, and powerful depiction of human courage in the face of danger, Out of Reach is a gritty, terrifying novel of a nerve-wracking race against time. With echoes of today's most shocking headlines, this is fiction at its most passionate and suspenseful.

Author Notes

Patricia Lewin is the author of Blind Run . She is a former IBM project manager who lives outside of Boston with her husband. She is at work on her next novel of suspense.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Erin Baker's life changed drastically the day her sister Claire was kidnapped. Even though her sister was found four years later, Erin has always blamed herself for not looking after her. Now, years later, Erin has become a CIA agent, and cares for Claire, who has been committed to a mental institution, and Claire's young daughter. Working in Washington, D.C., Erin reads about a child's abduction in Baltimore, and all her painful memories resurface, especially after she sees an ice cream seller performing magic for children in the park. She then realizes that she saw the same man before her sister disappeared, and contacts the FBI. Special agent Alec Donovan believes Erin's far-fetched theory because he's heard rumors about a magician who kidnaps children. The two become rogue agents searching for a kidnapping ring that leads them to a high-ranking diplomat. Fans of Lewin's first book, Blind Run BKLa 1&15 03, will find this white-knuckle chase through a murky world where children are the prey of adult monsters a worthy successor. --Patty Engelmann Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Spunky kids at the mercy of bad guys are once again the focus of this second suspense novel by Lewin (Blind Run), in which a covert CIA operative and martial arts expert goes up against a child kidnapping ring. Erin Baker is on assignment in D.C., keeping an eye on the city's embassies, when she spots a magician she saw the day her seven-year-old sister, Claire, was snatched 19 years before. Convinced that she can help find a boy who was recently kidnapped, Erin joins FBI agent Alec Donovan, working with him to dismantle an international child-slavery ring operating under diplomatic immunity. Meanwhile, the story shifts focus to follow the kidnapper as he dons disguises to match wits with his pursuers, and describes abuse through the eyes of Ryan, a boy imprisoned on a German diplomat's Middleburg, Va., estate. Tension builds as Erin confronts the kidnapper on a jogging path and the evil German at an embassy ball, coming to a head when Alec's team storms the Virginia mansion. There is no shortage of twists and surprises, but the fast-paced plot can't make up for the cardboard-cutout characters (pretty Erin is a single parent and demonstrates martial arts to CIA recruits in her spare time; tough yet sensitive Alec falls for her right away; the evil German loves his guard dogs) or the uninspired prose ("The following ten days were particularly intense"). An action movie in print, this thriller offers recognizable characters, a few surprises, a little romance and the chance for the heroine to wear a variety of outfits to face down the villains. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



He was big. Two hundred, two hundred and twenty pounds at least. Visibly strong. And young. No question his body had made the journey to manhood, but the stupid grin on his face said his mind was stuck in adolescence. He'd taken an aggressive stance, feet planted wide, arms flexed. "You're going down, bitch." Erin backed up. "Whatever you're trying to prove, this isn't the way." "I'm not the one with something to prove." He edged toward her. She put more distance between them, reaching for the calm that would get her through this. Instead she found something else, something darker. "Where do you think you're going?" he asked, a smirk in his voice and on his face. He was right. She had little maneuvering room. Though she doubted more space would make a difference. If she ran, he'd be on her in seconds, and it would be over. Her best bet was to stand her ground. "Look--" she started. He made a sudden and unexpected grab for her, his big hands clamping brutally around her forearms. But the move was based on brute strength not skill, and she twisted and brought one elbow up to slam into the underside of his chin. He grunted and released her. She backed up again. The next time, she saw him coming and ducked and rolled out of reach. Back on her feet, she pivoted to face him again. "You're quicker than you look," he said. "And you're clumsier." The reply escaped before she could check herself, and he obviously didn't like it. "Enough of this shit." He came at her again, fast and straight this time. Erin blocked him, her foot outside his, ankle to ankle. The heel of her right hand slamming against the underside of his chin. Her left striking his biceps, then delivering a stunning blow to the side of his neck and forcing his head sideways into his shoulder. At another time, the shock on his face might have been comical, but today, she wasn't laughing. She seized his elbow, twisted, and he landed on his back. Hard. But she kept him rolling onto his stomach and jammed her knee against his kidney. His arm wrenched behind him, bent at the wrist. Her free hand shoving his head to the floor. And he frantically slapped the mat in surrender. The class applauded. Erin held him a few seconds longer, then let go, releasing his arm and backing away. "Good job, Erin." Bill Jensen, head martial-arts instructor at the CIA's Farm, stepped away from his trainees and extended a hand to the man on the floor. "Sorry, Cassidy. It's the price you pay for being the biggest SOB in the class." The younger man ignored the offered assistance and sprang to his feet. "No problem." He rotated and massaged his shoulder. "I like getting roughed up by a woman half my size." "Life sucks sometimes," Erin said as she retrieved her towel from a corner of the mat. "Especially in the Company." She was still edgy. More than she should be, more than would be healthy if this had been real. Maybe that was the problem. This had all been a game, and she didn't like games. "Go ahead," Cassidy said, "rub salt in my already shredded ego." She looked him over. He was probably ex-military, and the CIA wasn't known for recruiting people with low self-esteem. The combination meant it would take a lot more than one fell to do serious damage to his ego. "You'll survive it." "Okay," Bill said to the others. "Do I have to interpret these results for the rest of you?" "I want some of what she's got," said a short, compactly built young woman in front. "They don't hand out balls to wimps, Sheila," goaded a man behind her. He was nondescript in the way of many nice-looking American men: medium height and build, muddy eyes, and dark blond hair. Perfect raw material for the CIA. Sheila turned a brief, cold stare on him, then dismissed him with a sneer. "You should know, Chad." The class whooped, congratulating her while offering condolences to her target. "Okay, joke if you want," Bill said. "Just don't miss the point. Which is . . ." He looked from one career trainee to another. "Size don't mean shit," said Sheila. "The big ones just make more noise when they fall. And the small ones . . ." She threw another quick glance at the man behind her. "They squeak." Another burst of approving laughter, and again Bill cut it short. "That's right. You can be strong as an ox, and this little lady"--he gestured toward Erin--"will use that strength against you. Any questions?" "I've got one," said another of the women. "That was very impressive, Officer . . ." She hesitated, evidently unsure what name to use, though it was Farm policy not to use an officer's last name--even if you knew it. "Erin." "But?" Erin knew what was coming, the question asked after every demonstration. And it was always one of the women who did the asking. "Well, you're obviously well trained. What are you, a black belt in tae kwon do?" "Erin holds several black belts," answered Bill. "What's your point?" "Well, what happens when she comes up against someone who's just as good, and he outweighs her by a hundred pounds?" Before Bill could answer, Erin said, "No matter how good you are, there is always someone better." She glanced at him, saw him nod, and went on. They both knew it was the women who wanted an answer, and they wanted it from her. The men needed to hear it as well, but would never admit it. "And in this business you're bound to run into that person sooner or later. Whether it's someone your own size, or"--she glanced at the hulk she'd just put on the mat--"or not." "So what do you do? Hope for the best?" "You train and acquire as much skill as possible. You get good." Erin paused, letting her eyes drift from one face to the other, wondering how many of them understood what she was saying. They were young and brash, the best of the best in their respective fields. Or else they wouldn't be here. The CIA recruitment criteria was very tough. Every one of them was used to winning. "Then it comes down to heart, and the will to survive." Not win. Survive. "It becomes a chess match," Bill offered. "You fight with your head as well as your--" "More than that," Erin interrupted, frustrated with him. They needed to know this wasn't a game. "It's a question of which of you is willing to pull out all the stops." She looked pointedly at the guy she'd taken down. "And who gets meaner, quicker." For a moment, no one spoke. Then, "Okay, thanks, Erin," Bill said, indicating the end of the session. "Now pair off. "Chad, I want you and Sheila together. I'm pretty sick of the two of you, so work it out." Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "Just don't kill him, Sheila. The paperwork for dead CTs is a bitch." Dismissed, Erin started toward the locker rooms. As always, she left wondering if anything she'd said or done would have an impact. Would they take their training more seriously and understand the inherent dangers of the job? Had she listened when she was a trainee? Probably not. It wasn't until you got out in the field that reality set in. Bill fell in beside her. "Sooner or later, one of your gorillas is going to wipe the floor with me," she said. "Sounds familiar." She grinned and threw him a sideways glance. It wasn't the first time they'd had this conversation. "That was an accident." "So you've always claimed." Four years ago, as a CT--career trainee--in Bill's class, she'd put him down in a demo similar to the one she'd just given for his current class. It never would have happened if he'd taken time to read her student file, which revealed her years of martial-arts training. Instead, she'd caught him by surprise, embarrassing him in front of a class of newbies, and he'd never let her forget it. She suspected, however, that he'd also never repeated the mistake of ignoring student files. "So this is your way of getting even. You're hoping one of your recruits can take me." He laughed abruptly. "I'm not holding my breath, but it wouldn't exactly break my heart." "Easy for you to say. You'd be watching from the sidelines." "As you said, life in the Company sucks." She laughed and shook her head. "You have a wicked streak, Officer Jensen." He grinned. "Yeah." They'd reached the women's locker room, but as she went to open the door, he said, "Wait up a minute, Erin. We need to talk." She stopped, aware of the sudden shift in his voice. "Okay." He hesitated, briefly. "You were a little rough on him. Cassidy, I mean." He backstepped and planted his hands on his hips. "You put him down pretty hard." "Please." She rolled her eyes and held out her arms, splotches of red showing where Cassidy had grabbed her. By tomorrow, they'd be black and blue. "The guy was looking to hurt me." "He was playing a part." "And I wasn't?" She folded her arms, not believing he was serious about this. "I'm not sure." He looked away for a moment, then met her gaze again, head-on. "Sometimes you play the part a little too well." She frowned, surprised. He meant it. He was actually worried that she'd hurt one of his handpicked testosterone junkies. "This isn't a game, Bill, those recruits--" "This isn't about them, it's about you." "What are you talking about? The only reason I do this is to give them a taste of what they're up against. If--" "Look," he interrupted. "I know you're not crazy about working in the States." He wasn't making any sense. "What does that have to do with anything?" "You're angry, and it shows. Hell, Cassidy really pissed you off out there." "Give me a break. You know better than that." In a fight, anger could get you killed. Bill knew that as well as she did. It was one of the realities drilled into all serious martial arts students. Still, she had to admit, Cassidy had irritated her with his Neanderthal tactics. But she hadn't been angry. Not really. Or maybe . . . "I'm worried about you," he said. "You don't belong at Georgetown babysitting a bunch of foreign students." Excerpted from Out of Reach by Patricia Lewin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.