In Close

In Close - Brenda Novak Imagine that your biological father abandons your family when you are just a toddler. Fortunately your mother remarries and your stepfather adopts you and your younger sister. Then when you are sixteen, your mother vanishes without a trace. If that's not bad enough, fast forward fifteen years and you are now a widow since your husband was accidentally killed while hunting. This is the life of Claire O'Toole and she has decided to uncover the mystery surrounding her mother's disappearance in the latest addition to the “Bulletproof” series by Brenda Novak, In Close.

Claire knows that there is more to her mother's disappearance than she has been told. She has backed off of investigating or having the disappearance investigated because of the emotional reaction by her younger sister and stepfather. In an effort to feel closer to her artistic mother, she returns to the cabin her mother used for painting. The cabin is in good shape but has become a storage unit for the family's castoffs. Fortunately Claire discovers a police file that contains unseen documentation and now she has more questions than answers. Unfortunately, there's someone watching Claire at the cabin and she winds up suffering a concussion. Again, unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), a former lover, Isaac Morgan, lives close by and heard her scream. He comes running and ends up carrying Claire back to his house, Claire's former family home, before calling the police.

What follows is a series of unfortunate and suspicious events and Claire begins to question her need for answers as well as her sister and stepfather's insistence to leave everything in the past. Claire refuses to back down and the only ally she has is Isaac. If she continues, she will uncover a variety of small-town secrets that many feel should be kept hidden. Was her mother actually having an affair and did she run away? Were her stepfather and stepmother having an affair and did they have anything to do with her mother's disappearance? Why was her younger sister taken out of school and subsequently returned on the day their mother disappeared? And finally, was the hunting accident involving her husband truly an accident or something more nefarious?

Claire and Isaac seem to have a love-hate relationship. They speak at cross-purposes and it takes awhile before they realize that their attraction to one another is much more than a physical attraction. Claire's younger sister Leanne is disabled due to a sledding accident and a selfish spoiled brat. Leanne also feels that Claire is being disloyal to their adoptive father by continuing her investigation. The more answers Claire receives in the course of her investigation the more questions arise. Claire definitely has more invested in obtaining the truth than the police department on this cold case file, and perhaps it is this personal investment that won't allow her to stop even when her safety is endangered.

In Close is a fast-paced, romantic suspense read. The characters are well-developed and realistic. I enjoyed reading In Close, as I've enjoyed reading many of Ms. Novak's novels. This is a great read for a lazy fall afternoon.