“Out At Night”
by Susan Arnout Smith
Published 2009 by Minotaur books

If you’re into romantic/detective thrillers you just might be interested in picking up “Out at Night” the latest book by Susan Arnout Smith.  But I’ll warn you, if you are interested in the back story of the main character, Grace Sescanso, you may want to first read “The Timer Game.”  This book is the second book featuring Grace Descanso, Grace  won’t talk about why, but she quit medicine altogether. Now, five years later, Grace is a crime scene tech in San Diego, going to AA meetings, scraping by and living to be a mom to five-year old Katie.  Most of this is gathered from this book but it really seems as though most of the pieces of Grace’s life story are missing and actually detract from what could be a great murder mystery/thriller.

The story opens with Grace on vacation with her 5 year old daughter, Katie.  Grace has never told Katie about her father, but Katie’s father, from the bits and pieces I could gather in this story, is a rich actor named Mac.  They all 3 begin bonding in the Bahamas on vacation when Grace gets a call from her uncle, an FBI agent in California saying she needs to return because of a murder.  Here’s another missing piece of the background of Grace, apparantly there was a huge rift created in the family, when Grace’s father married a woman the family didn’t approve.  The real mystery at this point is whether Grace is needed to solve the crime, babysit her cousin or is she suspected of murder.

Thaddeus Bartholomew, a history professor, is forced at gunpoint to drive to a soy field. As he lies dying, he leaves a message on his answering machine at home in Morse code: find Grace Descans-. Cut off before finishing, the FBI need to know why he asked for Grace.  The plot thickens when it is discovered he was a protester at one of Grace’s lectures on DNA profiling of suspects.  That is the only time Grace has ever seen the man, but when she investigates the murdered man’s home she finds a wall full of photographs of various people, one of those photos is Grace.

The big scare in the area is a terrorist threat towards a world conference on genetically modified foods.  As it turns out Grace’s cousin is pregnant and in tight with the most violent of these protester’s. Grace’s uncle wants her to find how deeply mixed is his daughter/Grace’s cousin.

Grace uncover’s the plot to wreak havoc at the conference in a deadly way and uncovers a plot to rid the world of the Caucasian race.

Once you get past the missing pieces of Grace’s past the latter part of the book becomes a thrilling race against time to stop the terrorists.

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