Lunacy, Alaska - population 506 - is Nate Burke's last chance. As a Baltimore cop, he had watched his partner die - and the guilt still haunts him. Maybe serving as Chief of Police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness falls by mid-afternoon and temperatures fall to below zero, will bring some kind of solace. It isn't as if he has anywhere else to go. Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose - and pulling apart two brothers fighting over John Wayne's best movie - Nate's first weeks on the job are relatively quiet. But as he wonders whether this was all a big mistake, an unexpected kiss from feisty bush pilot Meg Galloway under the brilliant Northern Lights of the Alaska sky lifts his spirit - and convinces him to stay just a little longer... Born and raised in Lunacy, Meg has learned to be independent. But there's something about Nate's sad eyes that gets under her skin, and warms her frozen heart. However, when two climbers find a corpse on the mountain, Nate discovers that Lunacy isn't quite the sleeply little backwater he imagined...I got the audiobook for this from the library and I've happily been listening to it over the last few weeks. It's been lovely to do a bit of stitching and listen to a book and I hope I can keep up the practice. (Going to finish listening to The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold next, I think. I started it ages ago and kept getting sidetracked from finishing listening to it.)
Anyway, what did I think of Northern Lights?
I wasn't sure I was going to like it at first. It all seemed rather bleak and dark to begin with, and the narrator kept doing funny voices for the characters than I didn't really like.
While I loved Nate straight away, I also wasn't sure about Meg, who wasn't really my favourite kind of character. She was just a little too brash and up-front for me, which I'm sure shows up my own introverted nature more than anything else.
But she grew on me a lot as the book progressed, and by the end I was delighted with her and I'm very happy with her happy ending. I just hope she doesn't mess it up. She could, and I think will have to pay attention to keep it.
As the book continued, I began to see that the dark feeling was intentional on the part of the author and very brilliantly done. Nate arrives at the end of the world in the middle of winter and a dark depression. What else should the mood of the book been? As the story progresses, Nate begins to climb out of depression and Lunacy begins to climb out of winter. As both these things happens, the tone of the book changes with them until the end, in spring and good health, the tone sparkles like the sun on the snow. Congratulations, Ms Roberts, on an expert piece of writing.
I found the spats between Nate and Meg to be kind of fun and a little strange at the same time. Again, this stems from me bringing my own experiences to the story, as we don't have arguments in my own marriage and I would find it very uncomfortable to do so. I can totally see how these work for the book characters and allow them to blow off steam safely and move forward, and once I recognised that, I was okay with them, just aware how different that is to my own experiences. I think they may have resonanted more because I was listening to them rather than reading them as well. Listening to a book can certainly emphasise different aspects of the book than reading it does.
I thought the mystery was well done too. Certainly, I was never 100% convinced I had the murderer pegged until right at the end, although it turned out that I was right in my choice.
So after an uncertain start, on the part of the reader rather than the author, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Northern Lights. The library has a couple of other Nora Roberts books on audio, and I suspect I'll have to find the time to listen to them too.