The Cove Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Cove

Putnam, Nov 2003, 19.95, 327 pp.
ISBN: 0399150862

Whatever Sally St. John Brainerd knows about her arms dealer father's murder, she obviously trusts no one including the FBI. Instead of turning to the authorities to tell them what she knows about Amory St. John's murder, Sally flees to her aunt's remote home in THE COVE, Oregon.
Click here to see the rest of this review

FBI Agent James Quinlan tracks Sally to the picturesque coastal town, but does not attempt to bring her in. Instead he goes undercover as a private sleuth trying to solve a three year old missing persons' case. Two elderly people vanished at The Cove. The quaint town that boasts of the best ice cream in the world is not quite as tranquil as it first appears. Soon homicides occur and Sally vanishes. With the help of his partner Dillon Savich, James must rescue her from a place that no one has ever returned alive before.

THE COVE is a reprint of the first of Catherine Coulter's popular FBI police procedural tales. The story line is action packed with the suspense growing by the page. The description of the seemingly benevolent sleepy town is cleverly intertwined into the prime plot. Though some of the key players seem two-dimensional, fans of the author and those who appreciate a fast moving suspense thriller will take delight with the novel in which this popular romance writer made a sharp right turn.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Sally Brainerd is on the run after escaping the mental institution her dead father and ex-husband had placed her. Sally has no idea what she's done for the past several weeks--whether or not she killed her father, for instance, as the authorities think. James Quinlan traces Sally to her aunt's home in The Cove. He believes Sally's story of twisted family relations and begins to investigate the murder a little more closely--and those of travelers who have been disappearing in those parts for years. Someone's out to get Sally--but is it the individual who killed her father, or the one killing the tourists?
The review of this Book prepared by Sarrah

Chapter Analysis of The Cove

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 45%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 25%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   60%    -   70% Special suspect?    -   investigator him/herself Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   "All in the family" murder    -   Proving innocence of very obvious suspect    -   Big focus on forensic evidence Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American    -   husband/wife boy/girlfriend investigators Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings towards lover    -   life in small town Crime Thriller    -   Yes Crime plotlets:    -   escape/rescue from kidnappers Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   finding a known killer If story PRIMARILY about main chr. being hunted...    -   hunted by killer/stalker

Main Character

Gender    -   Male    -   Female Profession/status:    -   government investigator    -   wealthy Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American Unusual characteristics:    -   Mentally ill


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Pacific NW Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee    -   dumb rednecks, like Gomer Pyle    -   hostile, like Gomer Pyle on steroids    -   sinister, like an X-Files Gomer Pyle

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   licking Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like The Cove

Catherine Coulter Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian