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Northern Lights

Posted - Dec. 22, 2004 at 7:24 a.m.



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Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts just plain blows my mind. How does this woman write in the voice of such an incredibly diverse group of characters, all with such wit and rawness and spirit? How does she create places that captivate the imagination, and people who, while not always attractive, are consistently compelling? How does she crank out book after book of some of the best story telling I've ever read?

I don't know. All I know is this is probably the 10th or 11th Nora Roberts' novel I've read in the last two years, and it is my favorite. Northern Lights is set in the small town of Lunacy, Alaska. (The residents there call themselves Lunatics.) Nate Burke, former detective in Baltimore, takes the job of chief of police of this close-knit town, partly to get away from the memory of his partner being killed and partly to get away from the pain of his divorce.

He arrives by Bush plane over the frozen and threatening majesty of Alaska, which may I say Nora Roberts describes so well that I now long to see the ice sheets falling into the ocean and the lights dancing in the sky. This town doesn't much care for outsiders from the Lower 48, but it does know it's grown big enough to need a police presence. What it doesn't know is that a murder mystery involving one of its own is about to unfold.

These are fiercely independent people, especially the women. I could not have imagined the self-reliance necessary to live alone, male or female, ten miles outside a small town in Alaska where the snow can cut you off for days and the bears can break down your front door.

I give a hearty thumbs up to Nora Roberts' latest bestseller in hardback, Northern Lights, with a caveat that she is still a romance novelist, so don't be surprised at the few love scenes. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I'm Amanda Dickson.

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