Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Dark Side of Nora Roberts

I don't think anyone can consider themselves a true book worm unless they've picked up a book by Nora Roberts at least once – if anything, just for her massive repertoire, cult-like following and constant presence on the New York Times bestsellers list. I always thought of Nora Roberts as a writer for my mother's generation, complete with the horrible 90s cover designs, until I picked up a copy of Divine Evil last spring at the drugstore.

At first I didn't even put two and two together: Divine Evil is a suspenseful mystery, complete with satanic cults and devil worship, with a fantastically dark cover (I'm secretly coveting that red velvet cloak!) But alas, it turns out I had discovered the lesser-known dark side of Nora Roberts. And just to clear up the misconception for other readers who may think Nora Roberts is only for the middle-aged, I'm introducing three great books I enjoyed immensely:

Divine Evil (Nora Roberts, 1992)

The Heroine: Clare Kimball, a successful sculptor living in New York City. Faced with a creative block, she returns to her hometown of Emmitsboro, a sleepy village surrounded by fields and woods, for a chance to recharge from her hectic life and to confront the demons of her childhood that still haunt her to this day. But under the guise of picturesque village life, an evil force is stirring in the forest, a force that refuses to let the events of the past die and is a looming threat in the present. With the help of Cameron Rafferty, the town's hunky chief of police, Clare must fight for her life against the satanic powers of evil that lurk right in her own backyard.

Sacred Sins (Nora Roberts, 1987)

The Heroine: Dr. Tess Court, a prominent psychiatrist in Washington, D.C. When a serial killer nicknamed "The Priest" begins targeting victims in the area, Tess is reluctantly persuaded to help out the police with a psychiatric profile. Paired up with notorious bachelor, Detective Ben Paris, Tess is determined to find and help the lunatic who believes committing murder will help absolve his victims of their sins. Unfortunately, Ben Paris is just as determined to pull the madman off the street – either dead or alive. Tension comes to a head between these two unlikely partners when Tess reaches out in compassion to the killer, only to find herself the next object of his deathly obsession.

Brazen Virtue (Nora Roberts, 1988)

The Heroine: Famous mystery writer, Grace McCabe, who has landed in Washington, DC, to visit her distant sister, Kathleen. Recently divorced and struggling for cash, Kathleen confides that she has taken up a job moonlighting as a phone sex operator, under the alias Desiree, for Fantasy Inc. Though Fantasy, Inc. promises anonymity to its employees, it only takes one startling event to hint towards a break in the system: Kathleen, strangled to death on the floor of her office. Grief-stricken, Grace is determined to catch her sister's killer, even if it means getting in the way of Detective Ed Jackson, her sister's next door neighbour and homicide detective, or throwing herself directly in the deranged killer's path.

Though these books were written well before the millennium (and, actually, before I was born!), good writing and an exciting plot never goes out of style. I'll still be trolling the book aisles for some of Nora Roberts' darker works for years to come. 

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