Author: Nora Roberts
Published: July 2010 (Putnam)
Dogs? Check. Hot guy who happens to be really handy? Check. Gorgeous setting for all the action? Check. As soon as I picked up the newest standalone Nora Roberts book, I was SUCKED IN. This is undoubtedly my most favorite book of hers, knocking High Noon off its pedestal (The Bride Quartet is my favorite series).
Fiona, our heroine, lives on a small island off the coast of Washington, and runs a successful dog-training school and the local K-9 Search and Rescue squad. Right from the get-go, the reader is thrown into Fiona's world, going on a search with her and one of her three loyal labrador retrievers (she has one of each color!). You learn how organized, methodical, and capable she is, while knowing exactly what to say to people in any situation.
Simon, our hero, is new to the island, and his mother thinks he's too lonely, so she buys him a puppy, who he promptly names "Jaws." You can figure out why he gets that name. He's so hilarious with how he deals with the dog, because as much as he gripes, he loves his dog and is proud as soon as Jaws does something right. And typically, he has a hard time with the idea of neutering his dog.
The suspense portion of the novel is excellent. Fiona, years before coming to the island, was supposed to be a victim of the "Red Scarf Killer," only she escaped and identified him to the police. Putting the serial killer behind bars cost Fiona more than her anonymity, and she retreated to her island to rebuild her life. In present day, she finds out that a copycat killer has begun committing the same exact crimes, and she will most likely be on his list of victims as a tribute to the first Red Scarf Killer.
The story was great, balancing between the romance, suspense, and filler material. I loved reading about Fiona's work with dogs, and all the searches that leads. I'm constantly amazed by Nora Roberts' research for her books. I'm aware of all the jokes people tell about how all her new books are just patchworked together with pieces of previous books, but while some things seem familiar, it always seems fresh when I read them. Nora is a guaranteed-good-read for me, sort of like a chicken pot pie for a bad day is perfect comfort food.
I was surprised at the 3.5 star rating on bn.com! From the first couple reviews I read, it appears that people think that the ending is weak. The ending wasn't much different than a typical Nora ending. Yes, Nora doesn't seem to provide much detail in her endings and doesn't do epilogues either. Maybe she's leaving it to her readers' imaginations to figure out what happens in her her characters' lives afterward.
Anyways, The Search is fantastic and I can't wait to read it again.