I was looking for something completely different to read the other day and picked up this book more or less at random. I like a good romantic suspense novel now and then, so I decided to give it a chance. It had a couple of things going for it: it’s set in Alaska, a setting I usually enjoy, even though I’ve never been there and almost certainly never will be; and it’s a nice, brisk 65,000 words or so in length, maybe even a little shorter than that. A lot of the bestselling romantic suspense novels suffer from the same malady as many other bestsellers: they’re too blasted long.
COLD CASE AFFAIR starts off with a bang, literally. In a flashback set twenty years in the past, a mysterious someone plants a bomb in a mine, and when it goes off, the blast kills a dozen miners. Jump ahead twenty years, and the daughter of one of those murdered miners is returning to her hometown to take over the newspaper she inherited from her recently deceased grandfather. It’ll come as no surprise to mystery readers that she tries to find out who was responsible for that never-solved bombing, and wouldn’t you know it, it turns out that the circumstances of her grandfather’s death are pretty sinister, too. At the same time, the heroine has a lot of emotional baggage involving a handsome bush pilot to deal with. This is a romance, after all.
A lot of times, at least in my experience reading them, which is admittedly limited, romantic suspense novels skimp on the mystery and suspense. That’s not the case here, as Loreth Anne White, an author I’d never read before, blends the two elements just about evenly and does a fine job with both. Some of the mystery is pretty easy to figure out, but the plot also takes an unexpected and almost noirish turn late in the book, leading to an action-packed ending. Most importantly, White is a good storyteller and possesses that indefinable knack of making the reader keep turning the pages. I enjoyed this one quite a bit and think it’s well worth reading. I may try some of the other books in this line.