Nora Roberts has the ability to suck me into her stories, smack my emotions around, and then leave me at the end always wanting more. Her newest book, Shelter in Place does it all. It’s gritty, disturbing, terrifying, and yet it’s also hopeful. I read it in two days, consumed, because I had to know how it would all play out.
Shelter in Place opens in 2005, the first four chapters focused on a horrific shooting at the DownEast Mall and its immediate aftermath. Roberts digs deep and her story quickly shifts from intro into dark and violent. We’re introduced to the main players, including high school student Simone Knox—the first 911 caller during the massacre, and Reed Quartermaine—a young college kid who saves a child from the shooters. We also meet Essie, a first-responding police officer, and Simone’s friends Mi and Tish.
There’s a time jump to three years later and Roberts begins to take us on her survivors’ journeys, expertly weaving together the lives of multiple characters including the sister of one of the shooters. The story spans 14 years, and tracks the path of the psychotic serial killer, hell bent on finishing what the DownEast Mall shooters began. The killer is systematically stalking and murdering survivors. Reed, inspired by Essie to become a cop, is determined to stop the killer.
Shelter in Place held my attention at every twist, every page. I had to know what was going to happen next. I was fascinated with the design of the killer that author Roberts created. The evil was disturbing but I had to keep reading. This book is definitely more a thriller/suspense/mystery than romance, but there is a romantic thread that’s explored in the last third (or so) of the book. It ties nicely into the overall story and doesn’t slow down the action.
I loved the characters, especially Simone’s artist grandmother. My other favorite is Essie, she’s smart, strong, and her sisterly/motherly influence with Reed was believable.
Nora Roberts doesn’t shy away from writing scenes that horrify and they drip with some of humanity’s darkest evil. That said, I do recommend this book because of the characters’ journeys. I liked seeing the ups and downs, sacrifices, missteps, and triumphs. And hope.
If you’re a fan of Nora Roberts books like Angels Fall and The Collector, then Shelter in Place is for you.