Glass' new protagonist, "Michael, her father wanted a Jr., Tamlin," an undercover agent from the U.S. Treasury, is appealing in a (and I realize not everyone is going to know what I mean by this) season four Buffy kind of way. A pretty blond, she's fine with being undervalued and overlooked, because she's aware of her skills, her prowess — and the glock she's got tucked in the pocket of her cargo pants. This is what works in Glass' latest, a departure from her popular April Woo series. Readers will like Michael, and kind of envy her kick-ass nature, her ability to coolly evaluate a situation that might send a regular person running in another direction, and instead think: Yeah, I can handle this. Because of the aloof nature Glass gives her — almost by necessity, the better to justify her grace under pressure — readers will have to adjust to the coldness of Michael's personality (like the way she abruptly deals with her romantic life and then never mentions it again), and the staccato voice Glass supplies her with. Alas, a slightly disjointed plot (in particular, the behavior and motivations of Michael's erstwhile fiancé remain frustratingly murky) and an unfortunate number of unbelievable plot turns (one conclusion in particular seems astonishingly tidy) mar Michael's likable entrance onto the fiction scene.

Michael Tamlin enjoys living under the radar as an undercover agent for the treasury department. But when her boyfriend of four years, Claude, proposes — with a small (fake, though Michael doesn't mention this) ruby engagement ring, Michael decides to do the normal thing and accept. Soon she's relocated to Portland, Oregon, with a new job at a large local bank.

But everything is not as it seems, and Michael grows suspicious of happenings at the bank — especially when she realizes her predecessor was most probably murdered. When things go south with Claude, Michael decides she'll take down the wrongdoers at the bank and return to DC, triumphant. Too bad there's quite a few people along the way who'd like to prevent that. But Michael's used to being underestimated — that's just the way she likes things. (Peppertree, Mar., 283 pp., $17.95)



Reviewed by: 
Marie Bongiorno