“Prime Target” by Ellis Vidler
“Prime Target” is Ellis Vidler’s intriguing look at what the average person might do to escape the mob. Madeleine Schier receives a phone call from her husband in the middle of the work day, asking her to come home quickly. When she does, he tells her that they have to get out of town right away. She protests, not understanding, and before they can leave, he is killed in their apartment while she hides under the bed.
Her husband’s accounting firm unintentionally worked for a criminal specializing in human trafficking and the only way to bring the guy down may be for her to testify about her husband’s murder. Hiding out with the FBI at hotels until the court date doesn’t work – there is a leak in the department. Madeleine intends to testify, but can’t rely on the feds to keep her safe in the city. She must ‘disappear or die.’
What happens next is a fascinating series of moves that Madeline makes to keep herself one step ahead of the FBI and those that want her dead. Vidler provides the reader with plenty of action, but what Madeleine does to hide her identity, while protecting those she meets, is what drives much of the story. Madeleine (who becomes Grace) is intelligent and able to think on her feet, but she also has to sort out which of the supposedly ‘good guys’ she can really trust.
“Prime Target” caused me to wonder what I would do if placed in that same situation. I consider myself fairly resourceful, but would I have enough grit to stay quiet under the bed while watching my husband be executed? How would I establish that new identity? Is it easier to get lost in a big city or in the countryside, off in the woods? Technology might defeat me, since we can be tied geographically to the source of our internet connection. In order to maintain her anonymity, Grace has no phone and no contact with anyone for a while except at the grocery store and gas station. I would probably go through withdrawal after a day or so and bring the villains right to my door.
Not to give away the plot and how she does it all, but I don't have as much money as Grace, so I’d have to consider what things I would of necessity, have to do differently. Always using cash means that you have to carry around quite a bit or else have easy access to a stash.
Grace is completely capable of the tasks Vidler gives her, until the apple farm purchase. I wondered why a city gal would think, “How hard could it be to run an apple farm?” and it made for an even more believable character. Her time on the apple farm may have been Grace’s most challenging, as her naïveté comes into play and her wish to help could get her killed.
“Prime Target” has overlapping storylines, with interesting, sympathetic characters and even a tentative love interest, that lend depth to Grace’s plight. The situation of the wounded, scarred warrior, so badly disfigured that people react with horror to his scars, is handled with respect and tenderness. Bravo to Vidler’s method of dealing with his surgeries and voluntary isolation from the world, yet who still functions in a meaningful, logical way.
There is little new to be learned about human trafficking in “Prime Target,” but the fact that the players are ruthless, nasty people willing to protect their way of life at all costs is underscored whenever the villains are at the center of the action. Grace is appropriately alarmed about that cold-bloodedness and behaves accordingly. She doesn’t have super powers or unusual gifts, so instead uses her mind and the tools available to see her through. Vidler makes us believe that Grace’s survival is possible despite the odds to the contrary.
Please visit www.ellisvidler.com for information about Ms. Vidler’s books – audio, print, and ebook versions – as well as her blog.