I reread this book (again), and really enjoyed it (again). The storyline is generic – you know that Clare will eventually end up in the hands of the cult, that she will be saved, and end up with her high school sweetheart. Even though I knew what would happen, I always fear a little for the sub characters – will they and their loved ones survive? As the book progresses, all the members of the cult are made known, except one. I kept crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t be him, but alas, he had also practiced the devious ways of the cult. Despicable.
Many people claim that the satanic rituals used in the novel was not even remotely plausible, but it should be mentioned that these characters altered the practice to suit their needs. I am not a fan of any satanic material in books – it glamorizes Satanism, and makes it seem like intelligent people steer towards it because it is another exploration. This book followed that entire pattern – the town mayor, one of the cops; most of the members were highly intelligent and wanted new adventure. Nora Roberts loves to trash Christianity in her novels, and in this one she slights the Roman Catholic Church as one of her main themes (once again). It just seems unnecessary – it doesn’t make the book more readable.
Clare Kimball has managed to build up her career as a sculptor. Her work is a huge success in the art world, but personally, Clare still struggles to move on from her father’s death as a child. Haunted by images of his death, and cult activities she witnessed as a child, she returns to Boonsboro to try and deal with her memories. She finds that the school bad boy and her childhood crush returned and is working as town sheriff. She and Cameron Rafferty start a relationship. When Cameron’s stepfather, Biff Stokey, is viciously carved up and left alongside a road, the town starts to suspect Cameron, as their tense relationship was well known. Cameron investigates, but continuously finds puzzling clues. Clare finds satanic material in her father’s old cellar, and shares this information. Slowly Cam starts to piece together the puzzle of the cult.
Ernie Butts, an angry young man, is recruited into the cult. What he witnesses makes him realize that he is not made out to do such things, but realizes that leaving might kill him. Eventually, he saves Clare’s life before the cult sacrifices her, and Cameron arrives in time to arrest all the cult members.
I enjoyed this book eventually, even though it was written mostly for shock value. Nora Roberts has included rape and severe violence into many of her more crime orientated novels, and it is getting old. I love her, but she needs to be able to write a compelling story without employing stupid tricks. This is not my favorite Nora Roberts book at all. I would only recommend this book if you are a fan of violent reading material, but not if you love old school Nora Roberts.