Phoebe McNamara is a hostage negotiator for the Savanna Chatham Police Department. In addition to her highly volatile job, she has a challenging personal life as well. Her mother Essie has agoraphobia, and Phoebe is also a single mom to seven year old Carly. Phoebe is forced to live in a mansion by the will her aunt made, or else risk the danger of moving her mother from the house. She is also basically a single parent, with her ex-husband Roy not paying any attention to their daughter.
Duncan Swift initially meets Phoebe in a dangerous situation. As part of the police, she rushes to an apartment building which he owns to negotiate a suicide jumper of the roof. Phoebe uses her negotiating skills to save Joe’s life, and Duncan is fascinated with her strength and purpose. The next day he visits her at the police station, finally convincing her to have a drink with him.
During one of the training session Phoebe leads in the police department, she bumps heads with Officer Arnold Meeks, an arrogant, chauvinistic male who can’t handle it when being trained and reprimanded by a female. Things worsen between them when Arnie completely ignores procedure on a hostage negotiation, causing the hostage taker to commit suicide. His actions get him suspended from the department, and blaming that on Phoebe, he decides it is time for payback. Arnie attacks Phoebe in the stairwell at work, seriously injuring her. At the hospital, Phoebe calls Duncan, and he comes to her aid when she can’t and won’t involve her family. He tells her that she has a week to sort out Arnold Meeks, before he gets to him. Phoebe is irritated by this attitude, even as she appreciates the fact that she has someone to lean on now. She and Detective Liz Alberta set out to question the woman who helped Arnie stage his attack, and this leads to his ultimate suspension in the police department.
Meanwhile, a series of attacks leads Phoebe to realize that she has another, dangerous enemy. First, a hostage taker is assassinated after he surrenders peacefully, causing widespread criticism of the police, even though they have evidence no police officer took the shot. Phoebe continually finds dead pests on her porch, initially thinking Arnie is behind it, but he is later cleared of suspicion.
Her casual investigation leads to a full blown search when the still unknown suspect blows up a man at a cemetery, chained to a grave. The man blown up is Roy Squire, Phoebe’s ex-husband. The hostage taker gets Phoebe to the scene by demanding only negotiations done by her, and killing Roy within seconds of her arrival.
The investigation finally leads somewhere when Phoebe reviews all her old case files. They find the death of Angela Brentine, one of the hostages that died before Phoebe could start negotiating, had a secret police boyfriend. When the Captain of their unit, Dave, nearly dies in a bomb blast, he identifies Jerald Walken, an old police officer.
After Phoebe proposes marriage to Duncan, and he accepts, he calls his “mom” to help him pick a ring for her. She takes his friend’s wife with her to the jewelry shop, where Arnie now incidentally works, and Walken takes the shop hostage. It is a final showdown between Phoebe and Walken. Fortunately, he doesn’t realize the link between phoebe and Duncan’s friends, though it raises the stakes. She realizes that Walken has no intention to let the people out, and convinces him to leave his safe spot in the shop, and the police snipers take them out.
It is one of the best books in the Nora Roberts range. One of her romantic suspense books, she manages to intertwine suspense and romance very well. I really enjoyed all the characters, and the storyline. It came as a surprise to me that I enjoyed it as much – I don’t really enjoy books with children in often. If you are usually a reader of more crime orientated novels, you may want to give this a try. It is really good.