Cover image for Maze
Coulter, Catherine.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Rockland, MA : Wheeler Pub., 1998.

Physical Description:
467 pages ; 23 cm.
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X Adult Large Print Large Print

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Lacey Sherlock's life is forever changed when her older sister's body is discovered in an abandoned warehouse. She is the fourth victim of the String Killer, the name given by the media to a murderer who leads his victims into a maze with a ball of twine. Seven years after Belinda's death, Lacey, now an FBI agent, is paired up with computer whiz Dillon Savich, who has developed a predictive program to aid in the apprehension of serial killers. When the String Killer strikes again, Lacey spots his handiwork, resulting in his capture. The suspect confesses, but maintains that he did not kill Belinda. No sooner does Lacey confirm his innocence of that crime, than an attempt is made on her life. Suspecting her attacker is the same person who murdered her sister, Lacey and Dillon know they must solve the mystery - before they become the killer's next victims.

Author Notes

Catherine Coulter was born on December 26, 1942 in Cameron County, Texas. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and a master's degree in early 19th century European history from Boston College. Her first novel, The Autumn Countess, was published in 1978. Before becoming a full-time writer in 1982, she worked on Wall Street as a speech writer. Since then she has written over 65 books including The Aristocrat, Afterglow, False Pretenses, Impulse, and Born to Be Wild. She also writes the FBI Thriller series and numerous historical romance trilogies including the Song, Star, Magic, Night, Bride, Viking, and Legacy Trilogies. She writes A Brit in the FBI series with J. T. Ellison.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Seven years ago, aspiring pianist Lacey Sherlock changed the direction of her life after her sister Belinda was brutally stabbed to death in San Francisco. She earned a B.S. in forensic science, a master's in criminal psychology, and passed the training program at the FBI Academy in Quantico. Accepted into the Criminal Apprehension Unit, Agent Sherlock is teamed with Dillon Savich, a Bureau computer specialist who developed software for analyzing data about serial killers. All of her training and all of her thoughts are focused on tracking down Belinda's killer, a calculating prop-and-maze maker named Marlin Jones, who detests foulmouthed women who verbally abuse their spouses. Nicknamed the "String Killer," for using string to torment his victims, he starts the cycle again by murdering an eighth woman in Boston. Sherlock as bait entices the psychotic Jones to try his dangerous games on her; however, once caught, his lawyer screams entrapment. Hypnosis, an FBI romance, savage jealousy, and a sister with secrets twist this thriller in and out of the mirrored mazes Marlin so proudly builds. But Coulter fans will be interested to find out if she escapes this genre and returns to her patented historical romances next time around. --Jennifer Henderson

Publisher's Weekly Review

The strengths Coulter evidenced in her bestselling paperback, The Cove, are also showcased in this new romantic suspense novel. San Franciscan Lacey Sherlock was just a teenager, dreaming of studying piano at Berkeley, when her older sister's life was brutally ended by the serial murderer that the media dubbed the String Killer. Now, seven years and one brief mental breakdown later, her career plans have changed. Having completed FBI training and learned to be addressed by her surname, she's assigned to agent Dillon Savich's Criminal Apprehension Unit, which, utilizing Dillon's specialized computer program for profiling, is responsible for pursuing serial killers. This places the obsessed Sherlock exactly where she wants to be when the String Killer strikes again, this time in Boston. It also puts her in position to become romantically involved with her attractive superior. Coulter renders computer technology clearly and even interestingly, makes the Quantico training scenes absorbing and keeps the action moving fast. When Sherlock and Dillon apprehend the String Killer, they begin to doubt whether he really murdered Sherlock's sister, and though it's pretty easy to guess who the real villain will be, a lot of action occurs while Sherlock figures it out. Given Sherlock's vengeful mindset regarding the death penalty, the quality of mercy is definitely strained here. There are too many jokes concerning her surname; and Coulter's overuse of the adjective "plummy" to describe Dillon's voice can get on one's nerves. Otherwise, however, the book is gripping enough to establish Coulter firmly in this genre, even while she continues to attract a loyal following for her paperback historical romances. Major ad/promo; Doubleday Direct selection; author tour. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Coulter (The Valentine Legacy, LJ 8/95) writes mainly romance novels but frames them in different genres. Her new work is a thriller about a young woman whose sister was murdered. For the next seven years, she dedicates herself to getting the training necessary to catch the killer, then joins the FBI. When she meets up with Belinda's suspected murderer, the String Killer, she questions whether Belinda was one of his victims. She dreams about the murder in vivid detail; meanwhile, she is distracted by her strange family and by the apparently growing feelings between her and her supervisor, Dillon Savich. While Coulter's characters relate well to each other, Dillon is too good to be true. Coincidence stretches belief, but the book is an easy, fast read, good for summer entertainment. This title will be in demand.‘Andrea Lee Shuey, Dallas P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



FBI Academy Quantico, Virginia She was in Hogan's Alley, the highest crime rate city in the United States. She knew just about every inch of every building in this town, certainly better than the actors who were paid eight dollars an hour to play bad guys, and better than many of the bureau employees who were witnesses, robbers and cops every day in Hogan's Alley. Today she and three other trainees were going to catch a bank robber. She hoped. They were told to keep their eyes open, nothing else. It was a parade day in Hogan's Alley. There was a crowd of people around, drinking sodas and eating hot dogs. It wasn't going to be easy. Chances were that the suspect was going to be one of the people trying to blend in with the crowd, trying to look as innocent as an everyday guy, she'd stake a claim on that. She would have given anything if they'd gotten just a brief glance at the robber, but they hadn't. It was a critical situation, lots of innocent civilians milling about and a bank robber who would probably run out of the bank, a bank robber who was possibly dangerous. She saw Buzz Alport, an all-night waiter at a truck stop off I-95. He was whistling, looking as if he didn't have a care in the world. No, Buzz wasn't the bad guy today. She knew him too well. She tried to memorize every face, so she'd be able to spot the robber if he suddenly appeared. She slowly worked the crowd, trying to look calm and unhurried. She saw some visitors from the Hill, standing on the sidelines, watching the agents role-play crimes and catch criminals. She couldn't kill a visiting congressman. It wouldn't look good for the Bureau. It began. She and Porter Forge, a Southerner from Birmingham who spoke beautiful French without a hint of a drawl, saw a man dash from behind a side door of the bank, followed by a bank employee frantically waving and yelling at the top of his lungs at the fleeing man. She and Forge got no more than a brief glimpse. They went after the robber. He dove into the crowd of people and disappeared. Because there were civilians around, they kept their guns holstered. If any of them hurt a civilian, there'd be hell to pay. It didn't matter. Three minutes later they'd lost him. It was then that she saw Dillon Savich, an FBI agent and computer genius who taught occasional classes here at Quantico, standing next to a man she'd never seen before. Both were wearing sunglasses, blue suits and blue-gray ties. She'd know Savich anywhere. She wondered what he was doing here at this particular time. Had he just taught a class? She'd never heard of him being at Hogan's Alley. She stared at him. Was it possible that he was the suspect to whom the bank employee had been waving? Maybe. Only thing was that he didn't look at all out of breath and the bank robber had run out of the bank like a bat out of hell. Savich looked cool and disinterested. Nah, it couldn't be Savich. Savich wouldn't join in the exercise, would he? Suddenly, she saw a man some distance away from her slowly slip his hand into his jacket. Dear God, he was going for a gun. She yelled to Porter. While the other trainees were distracted, Savich suddenly moved away from the man he'd been talking to and ducked behind three civilians. Three other civilians who were close to the other guy were yelling and shoving, trying to get out of the way. What was going on here? ''Sherlock! Where'd he go?'' She began to smile even as agents were pushing and shoving, trying desperately to sort out who was who. She never lost sight of Savich. She slipped into the crowd. It took her under a minute to come around him from behind. There was a woman next to him. It was a very possible hostage situation. She saw him slowly reach out his hand toward the woman. She couldn't take the chance. She drew her gun, came right up behind him and whispered in his ear as she pressed the nose of the 9mm SIG pistol into the small of his back, ''Freeze. FBI.'' ''Ms. Sherlock, I presume?'' She felt a moment of uncertainty, then quashed it. She had the robber. He was just trying to rattle her. ''Listen to me, that's not part of the script. You're not supposed to know me. Now, get your hands behind your back, buddy, or you're going to be in big trouble.'' ''I don't think so,'' he said, and began to turn. The woman next to them saw the gun and screamed at the top of her lungs. ''Oh my God, the robber's a woman! Here she is! She's going to kill a man. She's got a gun! Help!'' ''Damn you, get your hands behind your back!'' But how was she going to get cuffs on him? The woman was still yelling. Other people were looking now, not knowing what to do. She didn't have much time. ''Do it or I'll shoot you.'' Savich moved so quickly she didn't have a chance. He knocked the pistol out of her hand with a chop of his right hand, numbing her entire arm, bulled his head into her stomach and sent her flying, wheezing for breath into a mass of petunias in the flower bed beside the Hogan's Alley Post Office. He was laughing. The bastard was laughing at her. She was sucking in air as hard and fast as she could. Her stomach was on fire. He stuck out his hand to pull her up. ''You're under arrest,'' she said, and slipped a small Lady Colt .38 from her ankle holster. She gave him a big grin. ''Don't move or I'll do something mean to you.'' His laughter died. He looked at that gun, then at her, up on her elbows in the petunia bed. There were a half dozen men and women standing there, watching, their breaths held. She yelled out, ''Stay back, all of you. This man's dangerous. He just robbed the bank. I didn't do it, he did. I'm FBI. Stay back!'' ''That Colt isn't bureau issue.'' ''Shut up. No, don't twitch or I'll shoot you.'' He'd made a very small movement toward her, but she wasn't going to let him get her this time. Into martial arts, was he? She knew she was smashing the petunias, but she didn't see any hope for it. Mrs. Shaw would come after her because the flower beds were her pride and joy, but she was only doing her job. She couldn't let him get the better of her again. She kept inching away from him, that Colt steady on his chest. She came up slowly, keeping her distance. ''Turn around and put your hands behind you.'' ''I don't think so,'' he said again. She didn't even see his leg, but she did hear the rip of his pants. The Colt went flying onto the sidewalk. ''How'd you do that?'' Where were her partners? Where was Mrs. Shaw, the postmistress? She'd once caught an alleged bank robber by hitting him over the head with a frying pan. ''Damn,'' she heard him say, then he was on her. This time, she moved as quickly as he did. She knew he wouldn't hurt her, just disable her, jerk her onto her face and humiliate her in front of everyone. She rolled to the side, came up, saw Porter Forge from the corner of her eye, caught the SIG from him, turned and fired. She got him in mid-leap. The red paint spread all over the front of his white shirt, his conservative tie, and his dark blue suit. He flailed about, managing to keep his balance. He straightened, stared down at her, stared down at his shirt, grunted, and fell onto his back into the flower bed, his arms flung out. ''Sherlock, you idiot, you just shot the new coach of Hogan's Alley High School's football team!'' It was the mayor of Hogan's Alley and he wasn't happy. He stood over her, yelling. ''Didn't you read the paper? Didn't you see his picture? You live here and you don't know what's going on? Coach Savich was hired just last week. My God, you killed an innocent man.'' ''She also made me rip my pants,'' Savich said, coming up on a graceful motion. He shook himself, wiping dirt off his hands onto his filthy pants. ''He tried to kill me,'' she said, still pointing the SIG at Savich. ''I'm already dead, remember? Although you might as well shoot me again; the clothes are ruined.'' ''He was only defending himself,'' said the woman who'd yelled her head off. ''He's the new coach and you killed him.'' She knew she wasn't wrong. ''I don't know about that,'' Porter Forge said, that drawl of his so slow she could have said the same thing at least three times before he got it out. ''Suh,'' he continued to the mayor who was standing at his elbow, ''I believe I saw a wanted poster on this big fella. He's gone and robbed banks all over the South. Yep, that's where I saw his picture, on one of the Atlanta PD posters, suh. Sherlock here did good. She brought down a real bad guy.'' It was an excellent lie, one to give her time to do something, anything, to save her hide. Then she realized what had bothered her about him. His clothes. They didn't fit him quite right. She reached her hands into Savich's pockets and pulled out wads of fake one hundred dollar bills. ''I believe ya'll find the bank's serial numbers on the bills, suh. Don't you think so, Sherlock?'' ''Oh yes, I surely do, Agent Forge.'' ''Take me away, Ms. Sherlock,'' Dillon Savich said and stuck out his hands. She handed Porter back his SIG. She faced Savich with her hands on her hips, a grin on her face. ''Why would I handcuff you now, sir? You're dead. I'll get a body bag.'' Savich was still laughing when she walked away to the waiting paramedic ambulance. He said to the mayor of Hogan's Alley, ''That was well done. She has a nose for crooks. She sniffed me out and came after me.'' Savich walked away, unaware that his royal blue boxer shorts were on display to a crowd of a good fifty people. Then there was rolling laughter. Even a crook who was holding a hostage around the throat, a gun to his ear, at the other end of town looked over at the sudden noise to see what was going on. It was his downfall. Agent Wallace conked him over the head and laid him flat. It was a good day for taking a bite out of crime in Hogan's Alley. Excerpted from The Maze by Catherine Coulter 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.