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The Shadow Tracer    by Meg Gardiner order for
Shadow Tracer
by Meg Gardiner
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sarah Keller, single mother to five-year-old Zoe, works as a skip tracer ('a hunter, a manipulator, a professional liar') in Oklahoma. She is very good at what she does, and is close to her boss and good friend, Danisha Helms. But Sarah has a dangerous secret; Zoe is her sister Beth's child, not hers. When Beth was murdered soon after Zoe's birth, Sarah took her and ran, and she's been hiding their identities ever since.

Disaster strikes in the form of a school bus accident. Though Zoe is uninjured, an Xray done at the ER reveals the fact that Zoe has been microchipped (not by Sarah). An RFID reader identifies Zoe's mother as Bethany Keller Worthe. Soon (with Danisha's help) Sarah and Zoe are on the run again. They have formidable foes in Beth's in-laws, the Worthes, a 'freak show' family of career criminals/polygamists led by self-styled prophet Eldrick. But fortunately Sarah also has a formidable ally, Deputy Marshall Michael Lawless, who had helped her right after Beth died.

The Worthes want Zoe back in the fold, but why is this so important to them? FBI Special Agent Curtis Harker wants to use Zoe as bait - Worthes' bomb killed his FBI agent wife. Harker is obsessed, certain that the end justifies any means he employs, whatever the collateral damage. Eldrick unleashes the bomber, Grissom Briggs, to get Zoe, assisted by teen sociopaths, Reavy and Felicity Worthe. When Danisha and her mother are threatened, that only raises Danisha's ire and she sets out looking for Sarah as well. Sarah contacts Michael Lawless and he sends her to his friend, nun/medic Teresa Gavilan, for shelter in New Mexico.

A series of desperate chases follows, with crashes and shoot-outs at almost every bend of the road. As the Feds use Zoe and Sarah to catch the Worthes, Grissom's gang also use the Feds to find their targets. If it weren't for the bloodshed and violence it would be a comedy of errors. All parties come together in a cinematic crescendo of a confrontation at an old deserted Air Force base after Sarah decides she's had enough. The Shadow Tracer is an engrossing thriller that would make an exciting movie; don't miss it!

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