Book review: Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Friday, June 1, 2018 Permalink

There’s something unfortunately timely about this book, which centres around a mass shooting in the US.

Although Nora Roberts sticks to what she does well – romantic suspense wrapped in personal drama – here she also explores the impact of such an event on the survivors, and lasting effect it has on their lives… both good and bad.

Tragedy doesn’t necessarily change us. More often, I think, it brings out more of who we are – or were – all along. p 214

Book review: Shelter in Place by Nora RobertsShelter in Place
by Nora Roberts
Published by Piatkus
on May 29th 2018
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780349417820
Pages: 352

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, helplessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

I’ve talked before about the fact I don’t usually enjoy mysteries / thrillers without the ‘whodunnit’ element: ie. books that introduce us to the baddie early on. (And I’ve likened it to my response to shows like Criminal Minds when the same thing happens.)

I like the whole problem solving element of working through the clues – not to mention the writer’s motivation for introducing certain characters or scenes… like I’m trying to second guess them and the tools they adopt in an attempt to mislead us.

So the fact we meet someone with an axe to grind or grudge to bear (#orsimilar) fairly early on was disappointing. However, in this case it allowed my overanalysing brain to realise that the thing I hate is the notion of having the mystery solved when the characters haven’t yet solved it. I HATE having to wait for them to catch up. Here, everyone learns part-way through the book who’s targetting the survivors of the shooting, so it doesn’t devolve into a cat and mouse thing.

What I really liked though – and Roberts’ experience and talent shine through in this respect – was the light touch she took in both the unfolding plot and the final climax. Lesser writers, and those less experienced would be tempted to spice things up by killing off a few key players earlier; or adding in an additional drama. But Roberts’ refrains.

And MORE IMPORTANTLY (and something I’ve also enjoyed about some of her recent JD Robb ‘In Death’ books) she refrains from those overly bloody dramatic final scenes in which our main character/s life/lives are on the line and they escape / are rescued in the nick of time. This isn’t Game of Thrones – you know there’s no ritual sacrificing of our lead characters. You know they’ll survive, but usually authors can’t help add in those final overly-dramatic scenes and that last bit of conflict. I think they worry it’ll be anti-climactic if it’s not there.

Here, there’s a climax of sorts here but it’s under-done. In a very good way.

Interestingly I usually appreciate the suspense over the romance in romantic suspense novels but I actually very much enjoyed other elements of this book. Reed in particular is a gorgeously likeable character. And I loved the relationship between Reed and CiCi and Reed and Simone, as well as their witty repartee, which is something I’m not sure I usually equate to Roberts’ writing.

It occurs to me that these characters are certainly engaging enough to sustain a series based around our leads and the people of Tranquility Island, so I must check Goodreads in the hope this is billed as ” Reed Quartermaine #1″.

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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