Sunday, March 14, 2010

Goodbye, Vermont Winter; Hello, Vermont Author Carla Neggers

At last, the rain has arrived -- short bursts of it this afternoon, but if we get some longer spells, it will wash the snowbanks down and get the soil thawing. I don't want the maple sugaring season to end too soon (it wraps up when the nights no longer go below freezing), but I'm ready for a change.

That extra awareness and restlessness that come with the turn of seasons also sometimes brings new authors toward me. This winter I delighted in discovering Carla Neggers and her 2009 softcover (paperback original) COLD RIVER, set in central Vermont in the fictional town of Black Falls. Neggers has used this location before -- for her 2008 thriller, COLD PURSUIT. The two books include many of the same characters, but where Secret Service agent Jo Harper takes center stage in the 2008 book, she's a late-entering side character for COLD RIVER. And is this ever a good read, with a steady throb of suspense as Hannah Shay uncovers the truth about a hometown murder. In classic Neggers style, it's also a romance. It's especially a grow-into-your-possibilities season for Hannah as she keeps taking risks, many of them with Sean Cameron, son of the murdered man:
She ran for the stairs. Sean didn't stop her, and despite her hike up and down Cameron Mountain, and the incident at Four Corners, she didn't break her stride on the two flights of stairs to her apartment.

By the time she reached her apartment, all the hounds of hell might as well have been after her. Her heard was pounding and she was breathing hard, her heart racing, her stomach churning.

Having Bowie there -- the open animosity between him and Sean -- must have prompted Sean to touch her that way. Talk to her that way. Look at her that way.
But even if she solves the murder, what will Hannah do about this entanglement with a former smoke jumper from California -- who also grew up with her and knows her from way back?

MIRA Books (Harlequin's mystery imprint) brought COLD RIVER out in paperback, but will release THE WHISPER, one of two 2010 novels for Neggers, in hardcover in July. This too is a sequel of sorts, to THE MIST, a 2009 hardcover (going into softcover this April) featuring Lizzie Rush as she impulsively interferes in FBI business. Set in Ireland, the book links back to Lizzie's Boston world -- and THE WHISPER carries these two allegiances and sources of adventure forward.

Yes, I know it's a challenge to collect all the work by such an active author -- two books per year, twice in a row! (That's counting COLD DAWN as the second 2010 Neggers volume, due out late in the year.) But I've got to recommend it -- the twists of suspense by this Vermont author (whose locations of the heart also include Maine, Nashville, of course Ireland) are too good to miss. And because the books often chain into each other, the Carla Neggers web site provides a useful set of "reading order" lists for her four series.

PS: Just to complicate life for the serious collector -- but as an added pleasure for devoted readers of this author's work -- ON FIRE, an earlier Neggers book (2003), was reissued by MIRA in February 2010.

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