Thursday, July 8, 2010

I wish the characters would have done more soul "searching"

The Search
Nora Roberts

When the highlight of a book is the main character's dogs, it is probably not going to rocket onto my list of all-time favorites.

Fiona is the sole survivor of a serial killer. She managed to overcome her abductor, escape with her life, and put him behind bars - but not before he managed to destroy her life. But Fiona is a fighter and she slowly fought to get her life back, a life she enjoys as, now eight years later, she lives on Orcas Island off the coast of Seattle and runs a dog training school out of her home. She also established a volunteer canine Search and Rescue squad to help find people who have gotten lost in the woods that dominate the island. Life is going well until copycat murders begin occurring, which makes her wonder if she will be the final target; and a handsome artist, Simon, moves in down-the-way, which makes her wonder if she is ready for the feelings he brings about that she hasn't felt in nearly a decade.

Okay, synopsis done. Now, my thoughts. My big problem with this book was the manner in which the two leads - Fiona and Simon - handled their feelings. I think NR wanted to create characters who were down-to-earth, not overly romantic, and realistic about their relationship and its challenges. I appreciate all of those aspects and it could have been a nice change from typical romance novels. However, and this pains me to say, NR went too far and developed the characters into blunt, no-romance people who were either too confrontational or too forgiving. We never got any kind of background on Simon so he just came across as a soft-hearted ass with no reason as to why and Fiona, for some reason, found his bullheadedness wildly entertaining.

As for the mystery, there wasn't a lot to it. We know from early on who the culprit is and, despite a few minor surprises, why he is doing it. However, the police are not privy to this insider information but we don't have a lot of insight into their actual investigation so this comes off as more like the tracking of an individual as opposed to a mystery. That was okay, it didn't bother me too much, but the motive wasn't incredibly complex and I would have enjoyed just a little more there.

But, then there were the dogs! Fiona had three labs (a yellow, chocolate, and black) that she trained as S&R dogs and they were total show stealers. Throw in Simon's puppy, Jaws, and I was ready to go out and adopt a pack on my own! I thought the parts that described Fiona's training classes were interesting and the S&R portions were wonderfully described. On the non-canine side, there were some great supporting characters including Sylvia, Fiona's stepmother, and Mai, vet/fellow S&R/best friend.

Overall, a solid novel by NR, which I enjoyed and read cover-to-cover in two short days. However, as far as her novels go, it will be filed away with books likeTribute and Carolina Moon instead of reaching the favorite list like Midnight Bayou and Black Hills.

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