Unlikely hero tries to rescue a mystery girl

  • By Oline H. Cogdill Sun Sentinel
  • Thursday, February 18, 2010 1:40pm
  • Life

“Rescuing Olivia” by Julie Compton; Minotaur ($25.99)

Author Julie Compton poses an intriguing view of love in her second stand-alone novel: How well do you know the person you love and, if the worst happened, what would you do to save her?

Anders Erickson is put to the test when a motorcycle accident leaves Olivia Mayfield, his girlfriend of five months, in a coma following a romantic visit to the Ocala National Forest.

The couple’s motorcycle helmets were stolen and Olivia was seriously injured when a car ran them off the road.

When Anders tries to visit Olivia in the hospital, her controlling, nasty father, Lawrence, refuses to allow him in her room and bans him from finding out any information about her, blaming Anders for the accident.

A few days later, Lawrence, a pharmaceutical magnate, tells Anders that Olivia has died and will be buried in a private service. But Anders can’t find any official notice of her death and Olivia’s hospital file has been wiped clean.

Olivia had refused to talk about her past or her family, but Anders is able to piece together enough information to make a trek to her Connecticut hometown and from there to Africa, where she was born.

Anders’ investigation centers on two men who have manipulated Olivia her entire life: her father and her ex-fiance, Iraq war veteran Brent Campbell.

The intense “Rescuing Olivia” is full of surprising, mostly realistic twists that add to the tension. But the believability of the plot often is undercut when the story meanders to the different locations. Oddly, the scenes in Kenya give a real taste of that country while the Florida setting seems more generic.

On the surface, Anders hardly seems the stuff heroes are made of. At 29, he has squandered his intellect for menial jobs that pay little more than minimum wage. A dark secret from his childhood seems to make him not want to succeed. That he can finally force himself to grow is integral to the novel.

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