Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
Nate Burke admits he is running away. He is running away from his memories in Baltimore when his partner was shot and killed while they were trying to make an arrest. But he has run rather far. He has accepted the position of chief of police in Lunacy, Alaska. Lunacy is a small town (population a little over 500) north of Anchorage. He arrives in Lunacy a few days after Christmas, when the town is dark most of the time.
The police force is small – two deputies besides himself. But it’s a small town with barroom brawls and vehicle accidents keeping the police busy. It’s not like the homicide department where Nate worked in Baltimore. He enjoys the pace and the police reports in the local paper.
Meg Galloway is one of the local pilots. She has been a loner since her father disappeared sixteen years earlier. She and her mother get along socially, but otherwise are opposites. She’s a loner, living in a home in the woods out of town. She makes her living from her small airplane. Something about Nate, the sadness in his eyes, draws her to him. He also is a loner and the two are pulled together.
A freak accident reveals a frozen body on one of the nearby mountains. The body of a climber is found. He had died from an axe in his chest. Meg recognizes the photograph of the body as her father. Nate feels responsible, although the case is outside his jurisdiction. His old homicide instincts come to the fore. The man didn’t climb alone. The fellow climbers probably came from Lunacy. They may still live there. How did they get back without anyone noticing they had been gone? Plus, he wants to help Meg.
In this suspense romance story, Nora Roberts focuses on the man rather than the woman, which is normal in this type of novel. It follows formula – a suspenseful mystery, a big romance, and the twists that go with those storylines. But Nate is the focus character rather than Meg. The reader is in his head rather than hers.
Nate comes to life in Northern Lights. Meg tends to stay flat. The Alaskan countryside and the characters are appealing to the reader. The darkness of the beginning turning to longer days and more daylight over the next few months follows Nate’s own depression. Roberts writes happy ending novels so Nate improves and becomes the strong person he had been before the Baltimore shooting. His improvement goes slowly, matching the slow, steady return of daylight as Alaska moves from deep winter to spring.
The surrounding characters bring the extra fun to this novel. The mayor, the newspaper editor and his wife, the two deputies, the hotel owner, and the fighting twins (as well as others) are all well interwoven into the story. They help give the novel its flavor. Roberts’ fans will love this novel – and if you haven’t found her yet, you won’t go wrong with this book.
Notice: Strong sexual content