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The Harbor    by Carla Neggers order for
by Carla Neggers
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Zoe West's life falls apart in the space of a year, after she stumbles across the body of her father, Sheriff Patrick West. She abandons her dream of joining the FBI and instead takes a low profile detective's job in a small town in Connecticut. But even there, she can't escape her emotional demons and in short order is fired for not wearing her gun while on duty. When Zoe's sister Christina calls with news of a series of break-ins at her café, Zoe heads home to help her and also to try and sort through the emotional chaos of her own life.

FBI special agent J.B. MaGrath has come to Goose Harbor for a much needed vacation at the behest of his superiors after an undercover job went awry - one that also came close to killing him. MaGrath is no fan of small seaside towns. However, his grandfather was from Goose Harbor and J.B. decides now's as good a time as any to check out the rest of his long lost relatives. The fact that Sheriff Patrick West's murder remains unsolved is a tantalizing puzzle that MaGrath just can't leave alone. It doesn't take long for Zoe's and Agent MaGrath's paths to cross and he soon finds himself responding to her, despite her hard-nosed, don't-mess-with-me attitude. Zoe too, realises there's something about the darkly enigmatic agent that has her paying close attention. When break-ins at Christina's caf9 continue, MaGrath and Zoe conclude that her father's killer is still in town - and afraid that Zoe's return and the additional presence of an FBI Agent may well be his (or her) undoing.

Carla Neggers is a long-time native of Vermont and sets just the right mood and atmosphere for small town murder, mystery and romance. Zoe and J.D. work well off each other, as do most of the secondaries with whom they interact. The author also mixes in a nice assortment of red herrings that leave readers guessing. The climax and the unmasking of the real killer is almost cliché. However Neggers' strong writing and nice characterizations more than make up for this small disappointment.

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