Hothouse Orchid by Stuart Woods is the fifth book in the “Holly Barker” suspense series. Publisher: Putnam, September 2009
After five years on the trail of an internationally wanted terrorist, the CIA thinks Special Agent Holly Barker might need a long vacation. So Holly returns to her hometown of Orchid Beach, Florida, where she had been police chief for many years. With its sun-drenched beaches, crowded marinas and luxurious oceanfront homes, it seems like the ideal coastal retreat. But a very unpleasant surprise awaits Holly. Many years earlier, Holly and another female army officer had brought charges against their commanding officer for sexual harassment, attempted rape, and rape. Holly had managed to fight him off, but the other woman, a young lieutenant, had not. The officer in question was acquitted of all charges, and has also left the army-for a job as Orchid Beach’s new police chief. The police department now is entirely different from the one she commanded. An old danger Holly knows only too well has re-surfaced and her beloved hometown might not be the sanctuary she’d thought.
Told to go on vacation by her superiors, Holly heads home to Orchid Beach where she is told the man who tried to rape her is now the chief of police. Holly gets out the word to the women on the force and when she is nearly attacked again, Holly pulls out all stops to get the rapist. Holly also has to contend with Teddy, her elusive fugitive. My rating: 4.5 stars