Friday, May 14, 2010

Catching Up With Carla Neggers

What a satisfying read!

I've just enjoyed THE MIST, which is the third in the Boston Police Department (BPD)/FBI series that Carla Neggers began with The Widow and then The Angel. So I'm about ready for the fourth book in this series, which hits the shelves in July -- The Whisper.

Reading a Neggers series is like moving into a neighborhood: You get close to one family/character, then ease back a bit and get to know another, and come to see how they link with each other.  Then someone else stops in with a cup of sugar and after an hour of chatting, you realize they know your ex or one of your kids.

THE MIST opens with hotelier Lizzie Rush quietly undercover in a bar in Ireland, trying to catch up with FBI agent Simon Cahill (familiar from the earlier books). She's trying to make an end run around the threats posed by a multi-billionaire criminal:
Simon, Lizzie reminded herself, was the reason she was in Ireland. She'd heard he was here with Keira on the Beara Peninsula while she painted and researched an old Irish story. As much as Lizzie hated to disturb the new lovers, she fetl she had no choice. She had to act now, before Norman Estabrook could make good on his threat to kill Simon and his boss, FBI director John Marsh.
And only Lizzie realizes how direct those threats are. Events throw her into more direct action herself, and soon she's showing her own skills, from martial arts to rapid thinking. Lizzie's best assets are her cool analytic mind and her intensely networked family.

Neggers provides a rich emotional subtext to her action novels, and while Lizzie's affections were getting engaged, so were mine --  with the entire Rush family of young and older men, who combine capability and tenderness in an alluring ratio.

If you jump into the series with this book (which came out in softcover six weeks ago), you may find, as I did, that the references to the action scenes of the earlier two books can sometimes be distracting. So I'd recommend reading these in sequence, to get extra enjoyment from the way Neggers braids one book's characters and events into the next, and the next. Think of it as weeks of vacation, sliding along with the narrative, and sampling the poignant and powerful Ireland that Neggers portrays.

In fact, for a special treat, check out this author's "photoblog" through her web site, -- I especially like the mist shots, as well as the stone circle that evokes so much history, myth, and passion.

This series is a good fit for readers who find Patricia Cornwell, say, too dark and disturbing but still want to see strong women defend their home, their families, and their friends against criminal forces. Notice that doesn't mean it's "chick lit" -- the crime-solving and pursuits in Carla Neggers's books are professional and absorbing. I'd vote this series as one of the best for beach reading or rainy afternoons.

PS: Carla Neggers comes to Kingdom Books on July 17.  If you're close enough to get to Vermont that day, come ask her how she balances four sequences of books and characters!

No comments: