When Jack Fairfax, CEO of Excalibur, examines the damage done to their advanced material research lab by a burglar, he knows the only other thing that can go wrong is for the head of the Aurora Fund, Elizabeth Cabot, to discover the theft. Jack has been on Elizabeths hit list ever since their fledgling affair blew up months ago.

Sure enough, Elizabeth suspects a problem. Excaliburs future rests on the upcoming demonstration of the new Soft Focus" high-tech crystal to a high-tech company. Without a working specimen, the deal is sure to be off.

Realizing that he could probably use some of her resources, Jack decides to level with Elizabeth. It appears that one of their research scientists, Tyler Page, has run off with the working prototype of "Soft Focus. Jack and Elizabeth will need to work quickly and quietly if they are to recover the crystal before anyone else discovers it is missing.

The only clue that might help in locating Tyler leads Jack and Elizabeth to a Neo-Noir Film Festival in Mirror Springs, CO. It seems that Tyler is the producer of record for Fast Company, a film making its world debut during the festival.

Soon Elizabeth and Jack are up to their eyeballs in Big Screen wanna-bes and movie femme fatales. But are all the femme fatales on the screen? Has Tyler dragged Elizabeth and Jack into a real-life version of a film noir?

Using film noir and film festivals as its backdrop gives SOFT FOCUS a uniquely intriguing and refreshing edge. Love, treachery, loyalty and death all unfold with immensely entertaining results. (Feb., 368 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith