Northern Lights
Nora Roberts
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Northern Lights

Nora Roberts
562 pages
October 2004
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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In Northern Lights, Nora Roberts takes you away to the harsh beauty of the Alaskan wilderness and the lives of its hearty and resilient inhabitants. Roberts weaves a compelling tale about murder, redemption, and two lost souls who find each other and a chance at love, all set against the backdrop of small-town life in Lunacy, Alaska.

Nate Burke is a former Baltimore homicide detective who has been overcome with grief, anger, and depression since the death of his former partner and best friend, Jack, in a dirty Baltimore alley one dark, rainy night. The past year has been a blur to Nate as hes lost himself to his overwhelming despair. Knowing he has to get away from Baltimore and its memories, he resigns his position with the Baltimore police department and takes the job as chief of police in Lunacy, Alaska.

His first view of Lunacy is from the air as he is flown in on a small plane that he doubts will hold together long enough to land. Once on the ground, he is slowly but surely pulled into the life of the town and its colorful inhabitants. Nate took the job to escape his past, figuring he could mostly sleepwalk through his days as chief of police. In a town this small, crime tends to run towards drunk and disorderly, minor assaults, and vandalism. Not much for a former big city cop to handle.

But its not as easy at he had hoped it would be. While many people welcome him, others are not happy about bringing in an outsider to head up their small police force. Life and the law run a little differently in Lunacy, but Nate is determined to bring order to the town. Both he and the town must adjust to the changes. Almost from the beginning, the wilderness of Alaska begins to change him. Then he meets Meg Galloway.

Meg Galloway is a strong, self-sufficient woman who is comfortable with herself and her two dogs. The last thing she wants cluttering up her life is a man, especially a man as complicated as Nate Burke. But his sad eyes and quiet strength draw her to him. As a bush pilot, Meg runs cargo and people, bringing supplies into the town and taking people into the bush. It is a solitary life that suits her well. But soon she finds herself spending more and more time with Nate, and what starts as just a physical relationship becomes something more.

When a search for three teens who have gone missing on a dangerous winter climb of one of the nearby mountains leads to the discovery of a body, life in Lunacy changes forever. The frozen body, an ax embedded in its chest, is that of Patrick Galloway, Megs father who went missing sixteen years earlier. Everyone had assumed that Patrick had just walked away from his family, but now they know that he was murdered.

Nate emerges from his cocoon of grief and begins to feel and to live again as he investigates the crime. But he quickly learns that many of the towns inhabitants have secrets, and many of them think that the past is best left alone. Nate is determined to solve this murder and continues to quietly investigate on his own. But his investigation threatens the new life that hes found in Lunacy and the fledgling relationship between himself and Meg.

Once again, Nora Roberts delivers a novel filled with strong main characters, a bounty of interesting secondary characters, and lots of action and emotion. The consummate storyteller, Roberts makes you feel as if you are an inhabitant of Lunacy as you get wrapped up with the town and its problems. A fascinating study of people and the healing power of the land and love. With its page-turning suspense and intriguing plot twists, Northern Lights is a must read.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Norma Collins, 2004

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