Monday, October 25, 2010

Risk, Suspense, Romance: Carla Neggers Braids Them Snugly in COLD DAWN (3rd in series)

The newest Carla Neggers book releases tomorrow, and I've already heard from my "supplier" that my copy of COLD DAWN is on the way. Hurrah! It will be great to hold the book in my hand, after three times reading the galley in e-form. Bookmarking on e-galleys is a joy when it works ... but all the technology is so new that it's a bit of a distraction from the story.

And COLD DAWN is quite a story! Rose Cameron, youngest (and the only girl) of the Cameron siblings -- familiar to readers of the first and second in this Neggers Vermont series, Cold Pursuit and Cold River -- is strong, independent, and affectionate. Well, the affection extends warmly to her eight-year-old search dog, a golden retriever named Ranger; and to her brothers, of course; and to the women who love them. But she's been protecting her own heart for a long time, especially from her brother Sean's firejumping partner Nick Martini, a wealthy Californian who can't possibly grasp what Vermont and the Camerons mean to Rose. Right?

As COLD DAWN begins, Nick has just arrived in town, to find out for himself. Between the snow and the cold and the unaccustomed layers of clothing, he's at a slight disadvantage in preparing for each adventure. But he's a quick learner.
He'd always expected he'd check out Black Falls, Vermont, at some poiont, but it wasn't his ten-year friendship with Sean Cameron, his business partner and fellow smoke jumper in California, that had finally brought him east to the Green Mountains and Cameron country.

It was a serial arsonist, a killer.

And it was Sean's sister, Rose.
Although Nick believes he's backtracking a long-gone arsonist, Rose soon finds there's nothing "gone" about the criminal activity that's dogged the town and her family. And if she and her siblings can't resolve it quickly, the town (and the Cameron businesses) will lose a huge potential asset: the upcoming visit from the U.S. vice-president and his family.

Nick sees Rose as "dedicate, tireless, determined, and professional." Rose sees Nick as so delicious that he can't possibly be right for her. She's got boundaries, and she expects to keep them in place. Whether she can grab the good things coming into her life is looking chancy -- especially with arson and murder interrupting. And the suspicion that the fresh outbreak began with Nick's arrival in Vermont can't be avoided.

Neggers spins a strong and fast-paced adventure, giving room for Rose and Nick to struggle with their feelings and plans, while working even harder to crack the case, protect the people they care about, and salvage some safety for the wintery tourist-economy town in the Green Mountains. The one drawback to the tale is the network of strands that bind it to the previous two books, so that Neggers reminds us often of who's rescued whom and how from the earlier sequence. (I confess that I kept getting interrupted, so I drew a chart of the siblings and romances, to keep it all straight.) But this is a minor disadvantage, and by the end of COLD DAWN, Rose, Nick, and their community might as well live just down the road -- because they're so alive and important, and have worked their way into this reader's heart. I look forward to following the handful of dangling strands still remaining, into the next Neggers book in this series.

What a way to ride into winter!

PS: Carla Neggers keeps an active and exciting website, complete with a great photo blog. Check it out for a glimpse of some truly cold rivers -- and of the gorgeous sites that Neggers incorporates in her books:

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