Friday, November 30, 2012

Carla Neggers, THE WATERFALL: Vermont Suspense With a Glimmer of Romance

Life gets complicated. And tough. And challenging.

So, thank goodness for Carla Neggers. In her three or four active suspense series, I can depend on an adventurous, savvy protagonist who'll make smart choices in her world, take risks but not for the sake of risk alone, and see the community around her as worthwhile, for its friendships, beauty, creativity, and intelligence. (I'm thinking particularly of Heron's Cove and Saint's Gate among her recent titles.)

This season, Neggers and Harlequin have collaborated to bring back into print THE WATERFALL, her 2000 title set mostly in Vermont, featuring young widow Lucy Blacker Swift and her two children, as well as international security expert Sebastian Redwing. In explaining the decision to re-issue the book, Neggers mentioned earlier this year that it was, for many of her readers, the book that first drew them into the special form of suspense novel that she crafts.

Lucy's situation is complicated, of course: In the three years since her young husband's unexpected death, she's left behind the political rush of Washington, DC; established her own adventure travel company; and now is trying to help her restless daughter adjust to rural life, when her father-in-law keeps offering to host a return for the teen to the posh world of the city. Her son is younger, and more willing to enjoy country pleasures. Things are almost going well for all of them, though, when a string of violent attacks on their home banishes the sense of security Lucy has worked so hard to craft. That's what takes her in search of Sebastian, a man her late husband had told her to consult if danger ever arose. But -- sigh -- Sebastian is complicated, too, enmeshed in something from his past that's dark and unforgiven and, oddly, seems to be connecting to whoever is attacking Lucy and her family.

Sorting out the threats and dealing with them will take forms of courage that Lucy and her family don't expect to have -- but, when challenged, prove able to summon. And when the best people work together in the best ways, it's not surprising that Carla Neggers shows how their actions lead to a highly satisfying conclusion.

Highly satisfying after such complicated, tough, and challenging plot moments -- and a huge relief from those same real-life stresses. Count on Neggers for an ending that puts life back into proportion, even as winter arrives, the holidays are steaming toward us, and everyone's expectations tangle up with the slow recovery from the Great Recession.

Oh, yes -- thank goodness for Carla Neggers. And THE WATERFALL.

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