How many of us know or work with someone who has a thirst for power and doesn't hesitate to exert it over others? A few names come to my mind.  As Lord Acton once said, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely." Catherine Coulter's latest novel, Power Play, exemplifies this theme perfectly.

Power Play
G.P. Putnam's Sons

Natalie Black, the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James is a target in many ways after her fiance, George McCallum, Viscount Lockenby is found dead from a car accident under mysterious circumstances. Natalie maintains her innocence throughout this harrowing ordeal but the many plot twists and turns keep the reader guessing as to who the killer really is. At the same time, married FBI agents Savich and Sherlock have to contend with their own nemesis, Blessed Backman.

I really enjoyed this book because of the fast pace and Coulter's character development. I could relate to so many key players because of their various personalities. One person who stood out to me is Natalie's half brother Milton Hinton Holmes. His name sounds so boorish and autocratic in nature, doesn't it? Coulter's description of this man is a dead ringer for an acquaintence of mine.

"Milt has scarlet-red hair, threaded through with white. He was distinguished-looking sixtysomething gentleman who looked reasonably fit, with no saggy jowels, probably because of some nice pull-up face work he'd had done. . . Milt didn't shake his hand, merely gave him a patrician nod and ignored him." Yes, even in the book family as well friends limit their association with Milton Hinton Holmes. A family dynamic that readers will undoubtedly relate to on so many levels.

Catherine Coulter
Charles Bush

Let's move on to one of the main characters, Davis Sullivan, an FBI agent with the Criminal Apprehension Unit (CAU). When readers first meet him, Davis is on his daily Starbucks run when he witnesses Natalie Black's carjacking. His quirky sense of humor and personality really shine in this exchange with the perp. "Seriously dude. It's really not a good idea to mess with me. I'm FBI, a walking, talking death machine. You can't hit me from fifteen feet with that popgun, but I can shoot the fold hoop our of your ear and call my mother at the same time while singing 'Happy Birthday.'" A  guy who can improvise on his feet is one to have around, I would say. I instantly felt a connection with him because of his cocky sense of self. On a good day all of us have a little bit of him in us! Well, I would like to think I do anyway.

Although Natalie Black is a strong character in many scenes, I didn't agree with her altruistic outlook, especially towards the end of the novel. For me it didn't ring true to her character.

However, Hooley, formerly Special Forces but now Natalie Black's bodyguard, is the character who stole my heart even though he is is described as a bit of a brute. "His beefy arms crossed over his beefy chest, a black turtleneck stretched around his thick neck, looking like he could punch out Muhammad Ali in his heyday" is an apt description of this multifaceted man. Interestingly enough in several scenes, the reader is privy to his soft underbelly which is so endearing.

"Power Play" by Catherine Coulter is a most read with plenty of heart-racing action along with offbeat characters that keep you guessing until the very end.

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