Vortex Book Review

FBI Favorites: Sherlock and Savich

My immediate thought after finishing Vortex by Catherine Coulter was power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (My apologies to the descendants of Lord Acton for an inexact quote.) Following that, I began analyzing the writing itself, perhaps due to time spent editing my own writing earlier in the day. My conclusion was surprising.

Coulter is a master writer and Vortex is well written with no editorial problems. The plot is believable and the story flows. Yet, my sense of satisfaction upon completion is missing. And I am not sure why. Perhaps a lack of romance often found in her FBI thrillers. More likely, a feeling of forced involvement of series regulars.

Main Plot

The unsettling topic, a missing woman, is one with closure without hope. The protagonist, Mia Briscoe, is a journalist newly focused on the plight of a close friend, Serena Winters. Pictures discovered by yet another friend yield a clue to the men last seen near Serena before her disappearance.

Not surprisingly, her mission to discover what happened to Serena dovetails with her assignment of interviewing a young charismatic and powerful candidate for the position of New York City mayor. I was ok with this tie-in. But the additional backstory of FBI agent Tommy Maitland as the boyfriend of the missing girl and the subsequent interaction between long-time series heroine Agent Sherlock and Mia felt strained.

Vortex Subplots

Sherlock just happens to be in New York City to lend a hand in a case of a Black Widow and jilted lover-a psychopath murderess. So, she can easily switch her efforts to the main story line as a favor to Maitland. This is a refreshing change from all the subplots tying together.

Furthermore, the unique subplots continue with the storyline created for Sherlock’s husband Dillon Savich. A missing CIA agent and flash drive keep him busy. He aids and protects a co-team member, CIA agent Olivia Hildebrandt. The storylines do not merge even though the series characters bounce back and forth.

Forced Threads in Vortex

In addition to the involvement of Sherlock in multiple storylines, the forced relationships of the main characters troubled me. Does Mia’s boyfriend even need a place in the story? The relationship feels inconsequential as compared to the one between Olivia and the missing Mike.


I enjoyed Vortex and yet I am glad it was a library check-out. While the unique storylines did not bother me, they also did not do much for the overall book. One could even imagine two separate books. Furthermore, Savich and Sherlock working together always works better than when they go their separate ways. Longtime readers will enjoy but newcomers need to start with another book in the series.

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