Synopsis from Goodreads: TV reporter Tiel McCoy is driving to New Mexico for a well-earned vacation when she hears the news on the radio: The teenage daughter of Fort Worth tycoon Russell Dendy has been kidnapped. Immediately, she abandons her holiday plans to chase down what could be the scoop of a lifetime. But in a town called Rojo Flats an innocuous stop at a convenience store thrusts her directly into the dramatic story--and a dangerous drama. For inside the shop two desperate young lovers are holding a half dozen frightened hostages ... and a powder keg of a standoff is about to test Tiel's courage, journalistic objectivity, and everything she has ever believed.
Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Warner Books, Inc., , 2001.
How acquired: Given to me by my mom in 2008.
My thoughts: Sandra Brown is one of those authors whose books I generally buy new, sometimes even in hardback because I can't wait for the cheaper paperback to come out. My introduction to her was through her romance novels, starting with HIDDEN FIRES, but THE WITNESS, a mystery/suspense, put her on my list of favorite authors (and it's still my favorite of her books).
STANDOFF is more the length of the quick romance books at 261 pages, and not as deep or involved as some of her other suspense books. The story moves along pretty much in real time, though it takes less time to read it than the time that passes for the characters.
Tiel is a successful and popular reporter in a local market, with dreams of hitting the big time. She's on her way to a vacation destination when she hears a radio report of the kidnapping of a millionaire's daughter, and she immediately calls her boss, wanting to be in on the reporting. He's already got it covered for the most part, but suggests she interview the kidnapper's father, a drive that takes her several hours out of her way and into the middle of nowhere. She stops at a convenience store to call him for directions (this was before everybody had cell phones and GPS), and while there, who walks in but the kidnapper and his “victim”, who is actually his very pregnant girlfriend. Tiel suddenly finds herself in the middle of a hold up and taken hostage by the two young lovers, along with the store cashier, an elderly couple on their honeymoon, two Mexican men who speak no English, and Doc.
Doc is a mystery himself. He never provides his name, just says everyone calls him Doc. He's a rancher, but when Sabra, the young girl, goes into labor, he leaps in to help her and it's obvious he has some medical knowledge. I thought maybe he was a veterinarian, or just had lots of experience from birthing baby cows.
I was a little put off at first by Tiel's attitude toward the whole experience in the beginning, seeing it as an opportunity to further her career. She has a small audio recorder hidden in her pocket, and she surreptitiously sets up the elderly couple's video recorder so that it's taping unobtrusively from a shelf. Doc puzzles her at first, but then she finally recognizes him, as he'd been in the middle of a huge media frenzy before disappearing from the limelight. So she thinks she's going to be the reporter that announces to the world where he's been all this time. Fortunately, while helping deliver the baby and mediating between the kids and the feds by phone, her priorities slowly shift.
And Doc. He stayed a mystery to the very end. In fact, he's so much of a mystery that in my head I couldn't picture him, he's just a featureless face. While the story isn't told exclusively from Tiel's point of view, the events inside the store are, with occasional cuts to the parking lot and the point of view of the FBI agent in charge. So we don't get to know Doc, or get any insight into his personality, or really learn much about him at all beyond why he was such a hot story in the past.
A character study this is not. But a fast paced, attention keeping and quite enjoyable read – it is.