Shelter in Place, a review by Joanna

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Shelter in Place

Nora Roberts

Published May 2018

St Martin’s Press

438 pages


This is a romantic suspense thriller set in Maine, about the after-effects of a terrible mass shooting. I tend to avoid this genre – books which pretend to have a plot but are actually just an excuse for the guy and the girl to get together – yawn, but friends reassured me that the love story takes a back seat to the action here, and I enjoyed her Chronicles of The One series, so was happy to give this a go, and ended up quite enjoying it. Ironically, it has some hilarious 1-star reviews from people complaining that it takes too long for the romance to kick in, proving once more that you can’t please all the people…

Simone Knox is out on a night at the movies with her two best friends, when three teens from her school start killing people in the mall at random. She survives, but is left traumatised, and only the strength and love of her quirky artistic grandmother Cici pull her through. College student Reed Quartermaine is another survivor, who decides to become a police officer. Then they learn that someone is targeting people those who were there, a psychopath who will not stop until their mission is complete…
The first part of this a completely gripping, if disturbing, description of the shooting which while not gory, could be triggering for anyone who’s lived through one. Then we follow Simone and Reed’s lives over the next thirteen years as they discover their calling and serendipitously find each other on idyllic (fictional) Tranquility Island. We also follow the point of view of the evil mastermind behind the massacre, as they rack up an alarming number of kills unhindered by the hapless FBI. This part of the book felt overdone to me – once it was clear how disturbed and awful they are, I didn’t need to read about quite so many innocent people being murdered in cold blood, and it made the book about 75 pages too long.
For someone who hates romance novels, the love story was quite sweet – two mostly likeable protagonists helped along by a lovable fairy grandmother and a dim but cute dog. (Fear not, nothing bad happens to him.) There was really not much doubt about how things would play out – Roberts isn’t diverging that far from her Romance roots. Still, this was a moreish easy read by an effective storyteller and I probably will try out some more of hers when I want a guaranteed happy ending!

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