Killing Pace by Douglas Schofield is a high-octane, heart-pounding tale set in Everglades City, Florida, and Sicily, Italy, with three important questions: Where am I? … How did I get here? … and most importantly … Who am I?
Lisa Green has amnesia. Her “boyfriend” Roland, insists that he’s protecting her in the remote Florida Everglades cabin where she’s locked in most of the time.
He’d told her they’d been together for three years, that they’d planned to get married before everything went to hell. A little over a year ago, he said, she’d had her first spell. She lost her memory, didn’t know her own name, didn’t remember him. Then her memory came back. Then it happened again, and it lasted a little longer. “Ya’d lose your memory,” he said, “and then it’d come back, then go again. Really crazy. The docs said you was mental, wanted to put ya in the nuthouse. Couldn’t let ’em do that, so I brought ya out here.”
Lisa didn’t know what to make of it. Whenever she stared at her image in the black-streaked mirror above the sink in the cabin’s grimy bathroom, she’d get a prickly feeling that a stranger was staring back.
Someone she couldn’t quite bring into focus.
And then there was the other thing.
As Roland led her to the truck, grumbling because he wouldn’t be able to stop for a beer at Joanie’s diner, his iron grip on her hand reminded her of that other thing.
Reminded her that sometimes sex with him could get a bit rough. He would zone out … almost like, in his mind, he was just getting a quick screw from a hooker, not making love to the fiancée he had saved from an asylum.
And then there was that last time, two weeks ago.
They were on the cot in the safe room. He was on top of her, pounding away, when something snapped in her head and she’d starting fighting back and he’d smacked her. Hard.
It had only happened that one time.
But it had happened.
He’d smacked her and something inside her head had commanded her to fight back, to make him pay for that humiliating blow. But self-preservation told her she simply owed him too much, that she’d be completely lost without him, so she’d suppressed the urge.
Lisa has slowly come to the realization that she’s a prisoner, and after convincing Roland to let her go on a supply run with him, she hatches a plan to escape. And escape she does. Her memory is coming back, including the car crash two months ago that preceded her kidnapping. Turns out Roland was hired to dispose of her but decided to “keep” her for a while instead. If that's not bad enough, the events leading up to her capture and imprisonment are pretty shocking too.
Turns out, Lisa Green is actually Laura Pace, a US Customs agent—and a legendary one, evidently. Schofield only hints at a case that resulted in her bringing down a US Senator, but he makes it clear that she was in deep cover for a while, which resulted in some very high-profile takedowns.
Previous to her capture, however, she was in Italy working to stop the transport of counterfeit goods when she stumbled on a baby-smuggling ring. Babies were being stolen from poor immigrant families and sold to wealthy US couples. Now, Laura is wanted for murder, and she doesn’t know who she can trust—except one person: Collier County Sheriff Scott Jardine, who is immediately intrigued by Lisa when she’s brought in after her escape, proclaiming herself a missing person.
But when the district 7 deputy showed up at the substation with a distractingly attractive, disheveled woman who had just reported herself missing, Jardine’s curiosity had been immediately aroused. He’d heard the radio call, and he’d watched through the window as the officer walked her in from the patrol car. Even on ill-fitting wedge sandals, she moved with sinuous grace. As he studied her now, sitting across from him, there was something of the wild about her—and it wasn’t just the soiled dress and unkempt hair that gave that impression. Those dark, almond-shaped eyes, when they locked on his, were like searchlights. Minutes into their interview, he’d had the strange sensation that he was in the presence of some mysterious, subterranean intellect.
He was intrigued.
The woman was claiming she had amnesia; that she didn’t know how she lost her memory; that until today she could only remember waking up on a gravel road somewhere out in the bush. But now, she told him, memories were coming back—memories from before that awakening—memories of houses and faces, of seaports and ships and cranes and containers.
Memories of a uniform.
Memories of the military, or maybe the police.
And … memories of Italy.
“Mi ricordo che parlo italiano.”
He stared at her.
She spelled it out. “I remember speaking Italian. I realize now I always remembered it, but there was no context. No reason to speak it.”
Then, we’re off to Italy a year prior, where we get to see the ins and outs of Laura’s day job before her capture (she goes by the name Sarah Lockhart while there) and the events leading up to her discovery of the baby smuggling. It’s when she finally gets back to the States that Laura gets to let loose, though, and let loose she does. She is a bonified badass and undeniably smarter than just about everyone around her. With the help of Sheriff Scott and others, she resolves to get to the bottom of the smuggling ring.
Double crosses abound, and it was fun trying to figure out who might have ulterior motives and who might be genuine allies for Laura. Schofield also shines a light on the despicable practices of human smuggling and trafficking. It’s eye-opening, to say the least.
I really enjoyed 2015’s Time of Departure, so I jumped at the chance to read this one—and I wasn’t disappointed. While I don’t mind a little romance, I did appreciate that this book largely stayed away from it. It’s obvious that Scott has a thing for Laura, but there really was just no time! I’d love to see future books about Laura since there are so many ways to take her story. The possibilities are endless for a strong, smart character like this, not to mention one with her unusual skill set. Here’s hoping! Killing Pace is a fast-paced, unputdownable read—perfect to pass a weekend!
Read about Douglas Schofield's “Adventures in Research”!
To learn more or order a copy, visit: