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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Review: High Noon

High Noon
by Nora Roberts

Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara found her calling at an early age when an unstable man broke into her family's home, trapping and terrorizing them for hours. Now she's Savannah's top hostage negotiator, defusing powderkeg situations with a talent for knowing when to give in-and when to jump in and take action. It's satisfying work-and sometimes those skills come in handy at home dealing with her agoraphobic mother, still traumatized by the break-in after all these years, and her precocious seven-year-old, Carly.

It's exactly that heady combination of steely courage and sensitivity that first attracts Duncan Swift to Phoebe. After observing her coax one of his employees down from a roof ledge, he is committed to keeping this intriguing, take-charge woman in his life. She's used to working solo, but Phoebe's discovering that no amount of negotiation can keep Duncan at arm's length.

And when she's grabbed by a man who throws a hood over her head and brutally assaults her-in her own precinct house-Phoebe can't help but be deeply shaken. Then threatening messages show up on her doorstep, and she's not just alarmed but frustrated. How do you go face-to-face with an opponent who refuses to look you in the eye?

Now, with Duncan backing her up every step of the way, she must establish contact with the faceless tormentor who is determined to make her a hostage to fear . . . before she becomes the final showdown.
Ms. Roberts starts this book with a bang -- a man sitting on a high-rise ledge, his boss outside the door, a negotiator -- and seldom lets up on the excitement. It's been quite some time since a book has held my attention to the point where other things suffered, my writing, my home, my family. This one did.

In the beginning, I had to read this in little bites. But by the time I made it about a third of the way, I didn't want to put it down for any reason.

As she so quite ably does on a regular basis, Ms. Roberts made me fall in love with her hero. Duncan is an amazing guy, smooth but not smarmy, handsome but not slick, wealthy but not ostentatious. It's easy to see how he was able to chip away at Phoebe's resolve to stay unattached.

And Phoebe -- what a great heroine: Strong, capable, flawed.

There were only two things that detracted from the near perfection of this story: Nora Robert's trademark head-hopping, and the bits of the story from the POV of the villain. I'm used to her smooth POV shifts from hero to heroine and back, but this time her shifts also included the antagonist and those weren't so smooth. I also think that the story would have been even stronger without the few scenes from the bad guys POV.

Still, those things aside, this was another good, suspenseful read -- the kind I've come to expect from her hardback released. Thanks again to Nora Roberts.