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I was surprised to see Amy Dawson Robertson’s second novel billed by her publisher as a “Romance, Mystery.” While there are mystery elements and a love interest is a plot point, this book is so much bigger than those designations.
Lesbian presses have long focused on Romance. Readers demand a type of book that they can’t get from any other type of publisher—ones that contain love and sex and successful relationships, even though the road to the Happily Ever After might be pock-marked and harrowing. Readers of lesbian fiction don’t get many powerhouse novels that can compete against thrillers, military adventure, and spy intrigues published by straight/mainstream houses. So it’s especially appealing to find a new type of novel, about a lone woman battling an overwhelming and often corrupt world, emerging more regularly in lesbian popular fiction. Robertson’s is one of the best. (Tracey Richardson’sNo Rules of Engagement and Lynette Mae’s Faithful Service, Silent Hearts also come to mind.)
There’s a reason why the subtitle of this book calls it an “Intrigue.” It’s that and so much more.
Rennie Vogel, a former military dynamo, is a disgraced FBI agent dealing with the fallout from a botched Black Ops-type assassination mission detailed in book one, Miles To Go ( Bella Books, 2010). She has neither forgiven herself for the deaths of her four teammates nor has she come to grips with the shattering of her career. Depressed, angry at the government’s duplicity, and drinking to excess, she’s in a holding pattern, unable to see her way out of the hole she’s in. All she ever wanted was to use her uncommon strength, determination, and quick wits to honorably serve her country, and now her hopes are dashed. She can’t even contact Hannah Marcus, the woman she connected with so powerfully during her mission in book one.
Enter Martin Garrison, an adversary from the past who himself is a disgraced former CIA agent. He makes her an offer she can’t refuse, an assignment to work with a clandestine private organization, and Rennie jumps for the chance to redeem herself.
What follows is a twisty drama filled with tension, homegrown terrorism, and the machinations of the “teammates” Rennie must work with. Every step of the way she must battle her doubts and her mistrust not just of others, but also of her own perceptions and beliefs. The book supplies multiple points of view from various players in this complex intrigue, but Rennie is the heart and soul of the piece. Can she find a place for herself with this new group? Will she even manage to survive the mission?
Robertson does a great job giving the reader details from book one, but I’d highly recommend reading Miles To Go first for context and to enjoy Robertson’s excellent writing style and plotting prowess. I’ve seen few mainstream thrillers about political espionage and terrorism that are written as competently as Robertson’s. Her style is a joy to read. Scapegoat is a well-plotted, ably executed thriller peopled with interesting characters whom I hope we will see more of in future installments.
Scapegoat: A Rennie Vogel Intrigue
By Amy Dawson Robertson
Paperback, 9781594932625, 312pp.