Last week I posted about the lighter reading I did over the holiday vacation, but that was only half the picture. Here's the darker side.
With her standalone novels Nora Roberts has been stretching herself a bit more each year and the balance has definitely tipped towards suspense/mystery with some romance. Her latest, not due until May but in LINKcat already, reflects the trend. Shelter in Place begins with a mass shooting in a mall in Portland, Maine. Though the carnage lasts only eight minutes, dozens of people are injured and killed and both of the shooters are among the dead. Over the next ten years the survivors of that horrific night manage to rebuild their lives, some with hopes and dreams changed, but all working hard to move on. But unbeknownst to everyone there was a third conspirator in the shooting and that person won't be satifisfied until the survivors are all removed, one by one. Roberts is a master at drawing the reader into the lives of her characters, sometimes within the space of a sentence of two. If you can take the tough, though timely, subject matter, this is a great read.
Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna also tackles a "ripped from the headlines" type of topic. A mom is taking her young daughters to a birthday party and makes a quick stop at the mall to get a last-minute gift. She makes the fateful decision to leave the twelve-year-old in charge while she runs into the store. When she comes back out, both girls are gone. The police in her small town are ill-equipped to handle the case so the family calls in Alice Vega, a woman who has successfully found the unfindable in a number of other cases. Alice hires local PI Max "Cap" Caplan to help with the case and they fight the clock to find the girls before it's too late. Alice is an intriguing protagonist. She's tough and smart and a loner, but shows bits and pieces of herself to Cap as they work. Though I'm not sure how the author would pull it off, I hope that Alice and Cap are working together in next book (should there be one).
So there you have the flip side of all the lightness of my last post. There were a few other titles I finished over the long, cold, spell, but most of those are not yet available in LINKcat, so I'll save my reviews for another day.