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Northern Lights    by Nora Roberts order for
Northern Lights
by Nora Roberts
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Moving to Lunacy Alaska is Ignatious Burke's last chance to heal after the death of his partner, and a messy divorce. Nate's barely settled in as new police chief and wondering if he'll last a year in the cold and isolated town of 506 hardy souls when the body of Pat Galloway is found in an ice cave. Everyone always believed that the free-spirited Pat had simply abandoned his woman and child sixteen years before, without a second thought. But the ice axe buried in his chest paints a very different picture.

Meg Galloway adored her father and was devastated when he simply left her and her mother without a word. Even so, she endured, and made a good life for herself as a bush pilot. But now she and her fellow Lunatics are left to wonder if a cold blooded killer walks the streets of their town. While Nate has no jurisdiction over the case, he promises Meg and her mother that he'll keep tabs on the investigation. When another local is found dead - apparently by his own hand, and with a confession saying he killed Pat Galloway - Nate's suspicions soar. Is it simply a coincidence? Or is the killer covering his tracks and silencing accomplices? It might be the dead of winter, but things are heating up fast in Lunacy, including Nate's growing attraction to the independent and commitment-shy Meg.

Roberts does a bit of a departure here, and focuses her story mostly around Nate and his rocky road to recovery. Baltimore born and bred, he knows taking on the job as police chief of a tiny, isolated Alaskan town is an extreme move. But he sets himself the challenge knowing he'll either climb out of his dark hole once and for all, or let it drag him down all the way. Add a large cast of eccentric characters, superb atmosphere, top notch pacing and Roberts' natural flair for story telling and you've got another winner in Northern Lights.

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