Berkley, Nov 2003, 6.99, 304 pp.
In Denver police sketch artist Jane Russo needs to get away from the pressure of failure that could mean the death of an innocent. Her last case has destroyed her psyche as she has failed to obtain a drawing of a serial rapist-killer from the survivors. Jane does not follow the book and is usually able to coax the information so that she can sketch a portrait, but this time she has failed though the culprit has struck several times.
FBI Special Agent Caroline Deutch and survivor rights advocate Alan Gallagher pressure Jane to try one more time. The rapist abducted twelve-year old Aspen resident Kirsten Lemke from the Snowmass slopes. Reluctantly, Jane works with skeptic Ray Vanover to save the life of Kirsten and bring a nasty felon to justice. As they struggle with the case and Jane with Aspen being the home of her somewhat estranged family, they fall in love, but the preadolescent's safety comes first.
Fans of police procedural romances will enjoy WITHOUT A TRACE, a solid suspense thriller. The story line is action-packed in a low key level as Jane and Ray interview witnesses in an attempt to save a life. The estrangement with her mother seems off kilter especially when Jane is easily coaxed into dinner. Her sister's cavalier attitude towards Jane's work feels too selfish for a mom. Still the investigation is top rate and the romance as good.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner