The Coin
Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra

France, 1993.

A cunning killer trusted his secret was safe, an innocent woman holds the key to his destruction, and an intelligence officer must keep her alive before the madman can strike the fatal blow.

A DANGEROUS FIND For artist Gabriela Martinez, life has become complicated: she suspects her mentor and friend wants her as his mistress, her husband is neglecting her, and her latest illustration is ruined. Seeking peace, she visits her favorite thinking spot in La Marbriére, the mountain overlooking her home in the Côte d’Azur. Distracted, she winds up in an unfamiliar clearing, where she discovers a 1945 French coin half-buried in the ground. Delighted with its beauty, she has it set on her favorite bracelet.

Richard Harrison, an American intelligence officer, is livid. A simple favor for his boss has turned his vacation in the French Riviera into a hellish assignment. Now, not only does he learn the truth about the coin, but he must also protect Gabriela from a cunning killer who will stop at nothing.

Together with Maurice Nôret, from French intelligence, Richard attempts to discover the madman’s identity, except his budding love for this beautiful artist is turning into a dangerous handicap. Every one of his moves is thwarted with brutal countermoves. Soon, the psychological games to terrorize Gabriela escalate beyond his control. If Richard doesn’t find a solution, it may be too late for them both.
Set in the exotic French Riviera, The Coin is a story of hatred, betrayal, love and duty—of terrible and painful choices that, nonetheless, bring about personal triumph.


The car suddenly gathered speed. The landscape of trees and houses became a blur; the wind hissed at them through the tightly shut windows. Richard zigzagged around cars, heedless of the onrushing traffic, angry motorists flicking their car’s high beams as he brushed past. Gabriela shut her eyes for a fraction of a second. They couldn’t have been discovered so soon, could they?

His warning came like an explosion. “Shit. Hang on.”

Gabriela’s strangling grip of the seat was instinctive and came not a moment too soon. Richard rounded the corner into the small street at an alarming speed, the car’s rear skidding and tires screaming against the loose gravel. Gabriela’s body thumped against the door and she felt, rather than saw, Richard slam his foot on the accelerator.

So this was fear.

Richard didn’t transmit his, but Gabriela felt hers, tasted it, and it was horrible. She became hot and cold, her extremities shook, and her heart pounded inside her chest, wanting to flee her body. Everything took on bizarre proportions—the reckless speed of the car, the concentrated grimace of the man beside her, the heavy forest bordering the road, the black monstrosity behind them that seemed to get closer and closer each time she glanced furtively in the mirror.

“He’s catching up to us,” he stated coldly and hit the wheel so hard, Gabriela winced. “Son-of-a-bitch has a turbo, too, and I don’t have my gun.”

Gabriela’s muscles froze, her palms sweating so profusely she couldn’t keep a proper grip on the seat. The car increased its momentum, the curving road, landmarks, and trees rushing by like an old slapstick movie. Frantically, she prayed they wouldn’t find any traffic on this street. It was too narrow, had too many sheer drops on the sides, and too many trees. There were just too many things that could get them killed. Her stomach lurched, threatening to retch its contents any minute. She grabbed her mouth tightly with one hand while she strangled the door handle with the other.

“Keep your wits about you,” Richard said harshly. “Concentrate on the road. I need you to guide me.” He glanced at her briefly. “Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale. You’re hyperventilating.”

She tried to do what he suggested. Concentrate on the road, she kept repeating to herself like a broken record. Don’t panic. Everything will work out. Oh, God! Oh, God! Breathe. Breathe.

The force of metal hitting metal caught her by surprise. Her entire body jerked forward, her head bouncing back and forth in opposing motion with the car. The second hit came as quickly, but more viciously. Her body jerked like a rag doll, the strap of her seat belt biting hard against her chest and shoulders. This wasn’t real, she thought. This could not be happening to her.

“Brace yourself,” Richard shouted.

The car gave another sickening lurch, but this time the rear was slammed sideways. Gabriela’s head smashed against the window, her eyesight blurred, and she tasted the rising bile in her mouth. To compound her horror, the car was now out of control, heading straight for a fifteen-foot drop. There, a front-line of grotesquely shaped trees seemed to be eagerly extending their gnarled branches in hopes of grabbing them. Gabriela closed her eyes and thought, we’re dead. We’re going to die.

Her body suddenly slammed against Richard’s as he desperately tried to keep the car under control. A small cry escaped her lips as her body again smacked against the door. She heard the roar of the turbo engine as it got ready for another onslaught, and braced her body for the impact. Her panicky brain struggled to keep control of her body and she forced herself to look out the window.

With a wrench, Richard maneuvered the car away from the other. “Where do I go, Gabriela?” he asked, his voice as tight as his hands on the steering wheel. When his question solicited no response, his voice hardened, “Gabriela. Stay with me. Guide me. Where?”

Uncaged Review

Set in the early 1990’s in France, this is a story that creeps up on you. Although it didn’t catch me right away, before I even realized it, I was completely involved. I sat down to read figuring I could get a few minutes in reading and the next thing I knew an hour has gone by. This is a book that will have you on the edge of your seat, as Richard tries to get to the bottom of the case and trying to protect Gabriela at the same time.

Wonderful character development – this is one of those books that could easily translate to the big screen, and I’d be first in line to get a ticket.
Reviewed by Cyrene

5 Stars