Friday, March 4, 2011

Staff Pick: The Search by Nora Roberts

The Search by Nora Roberts turned out to be perfect airplane reading for a delayed flight. This was my first foray into Nora Roberts in print. Years ago, when I was heavily into audio books, Roberts was a favourite. Her books worked equally well in abridged and unabridged versions and bore up well to distractions and interruptions.

Fiona Bristow is a lovely example of a Nora Roberts heroine. She is active, athletic and intelligent. She has suffered enough to make her vulnerable, but is strong enough to forge through life independently. Simon, her romantic interest, is artistic, yet manly and gruff. Throw a naughty puppy into the mix and you have a story to melt the hardest of hearts.

Bristow is a dog trainer by profession. She lives, in relative isolation, on an island and holds classes for dog owners and trains search and rescue dogs. She herself leads search and rescue operations, usually looking for lost children and tourists. Her work is filled with high drama and leaves her intensely satisfied. Though she lives alone, she has close ties with her stepmother and neighbours. Her present life is orderly and routine in comparison to her traumatic past. A decade previously, a serial killer who targeted young athletic women met his match with Fiona. She was the sole victim to elude him and, despite the fact that he is safely locked up in prison, someone seems to be taking up where he left off, moving ever closer to the one who got away.

Fans of Roberts' romantic suspense novels featuring independent and appealing heroines, fast-paced action and satisfying relationships would also enjoy the novels of Suzanne Brockmann, Kay Hooper and Linda Howard.

Dog lovers who especially enjoyed the canine portion of The Search might try the Jo-Beth Sidden mysteries by Virginia Lanier. In the first, Death in Bloodhound Red, "Lanier's anecdotal debut, melding good-old-boy humor and action-packed adventure, tracks the personal and professional life of Georgia bloodhound trainer Jo Beth Sidden. Working the three counties bordering the Okefenokee Swamp, Jo Beth conducts harrowing searches for missing persons, among them a retarded boy, two fishermen and an elderly man. In between, the outspoken, engaging heroine deals with a mysterious inheritance from her renowned painter father and the vengeful, murderous intentions of her former husband, Bubba. She also finds time to help old friends enmeshed in crime. The latter effort backfires, however, when Bubba is beaten nearly to death and Jo Beth can't give the police an alibi for fear of incriminating herself and a friend. Indicted for attempted murder, she must prove her innocence without divulging where she was or what she was doing. Lanier gives readers a thorough, insider's look at a unique occupation and a detailed view of Southern life near the swamp." - publisher

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