Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Shelter in Place by Nora RobertsShelter in Place by Nora Roberts, New York : St. Martin’s Press, 2018.

With gun violence becoming more prevalent in today’s world, it’s no wonder that authors are starting to write about these catastrophic events.  Both fiction and non-fiction accounts that follow the victims and aggressors are starting to appear on the shelves.  Nora Roberts joined in on this trend to produce “Shelter in Place,” which is a fiction story set in Portland, Maine.

On an average day at the mall, readers follow along during a multi-shooter attack.  A sixteen-year-old girl at the movie theater with friends, a young college student working at a mall restaurant during summer break, and the first responding police officer provide a well-rounded account of what has turned into eight minutes of chaos and carnage before the shooters are stopped.  In the aftermath, lives are shattered, heroes are praised, over eighty people are killed and two hundred more are injured.  Survivors must learn to deal with the new trajectory their lives are taking, one of our protagonists finds a home in law enforcement while another closes herself off from the world until she finds a way to channel her emotions into art.

But one person isn’t happy with the results of that devastating day in Portland, Maine.  One by one, survivors begin to die.  A hit and run here, a suicide there; a mugging here, a shooting there.  It isn’t until one such attempt goes horribly wrong that authorities begin to notice the pattern.

“Shelter in Place” was a pleasant surprise when compared to a lot of Ms. Roberts previous novels.  Many of her books, especially the trilogies, follow are very specific pattern of people involved and overall story arches.  This book is a whole different cup of tea.  While there is ultimately a couple and a happy ever after, the majority of the story follows the characters through their traumatic aftermath and the new roads lives took after such a tragic event.  Once we are introduced to the villain, we get a good look inside their head and follow their story just as much as any of the other character.

Our couple doesn’t meet each other until late in the book and very slowly settle into the possibility of a happy ever after.  All of this is happening while they’re dealing with the emotional impact of the shooting and a raised awareness that they are once again someone’s target.

Susana Goldman is the Associate Director of Operations for the Alamance County Public Library.  She can be reached at (336) 290-8679 or sgoldman@alamancelibraries.org.