Outside the Lines by Sheila Lowe is the sixth book in the “Forensic Handwriting” mystery series. Publisher: Suspense Publishing, August 2016

Outside The LinesWhat should have been a routine afternoon on the witness stand for Forensic Handwriting Expert Claudia Rose turns into a shocking assault that leaves her bruised and bloodied. Following on the heels of a series of other traumatic events, the attack sends Claudia to the brink of a breakdown.

Her fiancé, L.A.P.D. Homicide Detective Joel Jovanic, learns of the attack while leading a homicide investigation into a mailbox bomb. An innocent housekeeper in the tony Venice neighborhood is dead and the homeowner is the CEO of a major pesticide-producing corporation that has been targeted in the past. When a notebook found in a geocache near the crime scene leads to the protest group People for Safe Food, Jovanic needs Claudia to identify the handwriting of a suspected eco-terrorist.

Though she may have recovered physically from the assault, weeks later Claudia’s fears continue to plague her. Desperate to get away, she accepts an invitation to lecture in the UK, but her trip turns into a nightmare when she runs afoul of both the FBI and New Scotland Yard. Jovanic’s homicide case has followed her to London where she finds herself unexpectedly allied with the chief suspect.

In this fast-paced and action-packed drama tainted with international intrigue, we find that the need for Claudia’s handwriting skill will play an important role in Joel’s apprehension of a devious adversary. When it becomes apparent that Claudia’s desire to help an ally infringes on Joel’s case, the resulting tempo takes a thrilling turn as the author brilliantly tells a story that quickly became a page turner.

The players were already set-up and it was the narrative that brought the richness of the exploits to a cascade of suspense that set the stage for lives lost, all in the name of greed. The author did a great job in keeping me on my toes and that surprising twist at the end, that I did not see coming. Good job. I liked that the author also gave us insights into the art of handwriting forensics which made this tale more alive than just words on a page. Claudia is a great protagonist and I admire her strength in doing what’s right, even if it’s not popular. Her ongoing relationship with Joel is a bonus and the personal aspects enhances the telling of this tale. This is an excellent read and I look forward to the next book in this terrific series.

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