Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Close by Brenda Novak

Back of the Book Blurb:  Claire O'Toole's mother, Alana, went missing fifteen years ago. That was big news in Pineview, Montana, the kind of town where nothing much ever happens. Then, last year, Claire's husband, David, died in a freak accident—after launching his own investigation into Alana's disappearance.
Is Alana dead? Or did she simply abandon her husband and daughters? Claire is determined to find out—and her former boyfriend, Isaac Morgan, wants to help. Although their relationship didn't end well, he still has feelings for her. And yet it isn't until he starts to suspect David's death wasn't an accident that he's drawn back into her life.
Together, Claire and Isaac search for answers to the questions that have haunted Pineview all this time. But as they soon discover, someone's prepared to kill so those answers won't be found….

Review:   In Close is one of those books that beautifully combine a well-crafted mystery with genuine romantic suspense.  Claire is a very likeable and sympathetic heroine.  Although her life seems to be like a sad country song (her mother disappears, her sister is paralyzed, she is dumped by the love of her life, then her husband is killed), Claire is doing her best to deal with the grief of losing her husband a year ago.  But she is also determined to solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance.  Her investigation reveals that her husband's death may have been murder, and somehow related to her mother's disappearance.  Pretty soon Claire's life is in danger, she is questioning the intentions of her closest friends and family, and Isaac Morgan, who she passionately loved years earlier, re-enters her life in dramatic fashion.  Isaac is a great hero, flawed and realistic, and an intriguing part of Claire's past.  While he does have the strength and alpha male characteristics to be a romantic hero, his painful past and emotional issues make him sympathetic and believable.
The small town setting was also very effective for creating a sense of menace, as Claire realizes that someone she knows must be behind the attacks.  It was also very accurate at describing the forced intimacy of a community where everyone knows each other, and a lot of their business.  This really enhanced the suspense of the story as Claire and Isaac continue to investigate.  Their renewed relationship was a nice counterpoint to the mystery, as they figure out what they want from each other. 
My only issues with this book were that the pace occasionally dragged as Claire steadily isolates herself from her family, and her family begins to act in conveniently suspicious ways.  One would think that investigating the disappearance of Claire's mother, and who attacked Claire, would be a priority, but her loved ones are oddly ready to blame her for stirring up old information.  But the quality of the story-telling got me past these points, and kept me reading late into the night to see what happened.

This is the third book in Brenda Novak's Bulletproof Trilogy, but other than Book 2 being set in the same town as In Close, they don't seem to be related.

To learn more about the novels of Brenda Novak, visit her website at


  1. I finished it last night and enjoyed it for the most part.

  2. Me too, mostly I really liked it!