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by Lauren Bach
Zebra Books, May 2005
319 pages
ISBN: 0821776320

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There are some books after w hich one feels the need for a long, cleansing shower. PROJECT EVE is one of them -- partly because of the content and partly because of the writing.

Rachel Anderson, a successful PI in Atlanta, responds when her cousin Jimmy asks her to come to Washington, DC, to meet Senator Thurston Benjamin, whose step-daughter died in mysterious circumstances.

The senator, who read his step-daughter's diary after her death, thinks she may have had a child and given it up for adoption. The thought of having a grandchild could perhaps give the will to live to his wife, who is dying of leukemia and not putting up much of a battle to stay alive.

To enlist Rachel's aid to find out the truth, Benjamin pulls out his ace in the hole -- that he will get information about Rachel's brother, a CIA operative who was killed in the line of duty. Since Nick was Rachel's only family, she acquiesces to the plan to learn about Cindy Benjamin, since it may lead her to learn about her brother's death.

In order to find out more about the background of Cindy's death, Rachel enrols in a small, prestigious college bankrolled by Shepherd's Cross ministry, a college where Cindy was a student. Rachel learns about a black market adoption scheme, and her inquiries, with the aid of her former and scorned former lover Elijah Trent (anyone care to guess how this turns out?) lead to a scheme by which young women are sent to Thailand, ostensibly as ministers; they are drugged and then sold into sexual slavery.

The minister who oversees this enterprise at Shepherd's Cross is careful to find only young women who have no family or friends who would miss them. At the college, they become members of Emily's Circle, from which the unsuspecting young women are culled.

Rachel is by turns engaging and irritating. Her responses to Elijah's attempts to explain what she thought of as his betrayal are annoying. He is by far the most sympathetic of the characters, as he juggles his responsibilities to the CIA and his desire to re-enter Rachel life.

There are several scenes of very graphic six. One might be titillating, but the second, third, and fourth are just boring lessons in male and female anatomy and have little to do with the plot.

The book is a mixed bag. The plot works well, but the whole black market adoption scheme just gets dropped. The intricacies of the slave trade are chilling. But PROJECT EVE is a well done thriller with an overdose of sex.

Reviewed by Mary Elizabeth Devine, August 1905

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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