by Melinda Leigh
Book 2 of Midnight
One by one, people are mysteriously disappearing from a small Maine town. Four months ago, a ruthless murderer killed two people and kidnapped three more, including Danny Sullivan's sister, who barely escaped. Unfortunately so did the killer, vanishing without a trace into the vast wilderness. When the police fail to find his sister's captor, Danny returns to Maine to hunt him down. He begins his search with another survivor, bed and breakfast owner Mandy Brown, but her refusal to cooperate raises Danny's suspicions.
What is the beautiful innkeeper hiding? Mandy Brown has a secret. But sexy Danny Sullivan, his relentless questions, and the desire that simmers between them threaten to expose the truth. A revelation that puts her family in danger. As more people disappear, it becomes clear the killer is planning another ritual--and that he's circling in on Mandy.
I seem to be in the minority about this book (and maybe the series overall).
In a nutshell, this book was too long for the material it presented, with our heroine rehashing her own "woe is me" story on repeat several times. Mandy probably could have been a better character to relate with if she'd just get over herself. She was a great independent and strong type, with resources and skills that many women would kill for. But her unwillingness to speak up about the threats she'd been getting from the antagonist, Nathan was what bugged me the most. What she knew, and the fact that she'd been getting threats, might have been helpful--after all, everyone thought that Nathan might be out of the area or dead, so the manhunt had been called to a temporary halt.
Instead, she spent the entire book moping about how her life had turned out, about how she and her family are now in danger from a crazy man out to make human sacrifices, about how she'd do anything to protect her family... and yet when she's questioned, she adamantly denies the fact that Nathan could still be alive. I guess I just didn't understand her logic, because allowing someone to know that her family might be in danger would have gotten her more protection. Accepting help from someone who could keep an eye on her property and her family could have kept her brother safer.
Giving the authorities, or even our main hero, the information necessary to help find Nathan is probably a better way to make sure her family stays safe. Because no matter what she was thinking, the fact that her brother was already on Nathan's radar meant that nothing she could do, including keeping silent, would ensure her brother's safety--as is ultimately proven by the end of the book.
But she decided to go the stubborn, independent, stupid route of, "I can take care of myself and my own." Except that she wasn't equipped to do any of that, nor did she possess the skills necessary to combat a half-maniacal, determined psycho killer.
But anyway... in the end, it was all a moot point. It didn't even seem like anything Mandy knew about Nathan could have done much to help capture him--simply it would have proven that there was a chance that random hikers disappearing wasn't just another case of "hikers disappear in the mountains all the time," due to getting lost or eaten by a bear or whatever. But the whole "if we find Nathan's secret girlfriend, then we can find Nathan" thing was a waste of story line, because it went nowhere.
Which brings me to how laughable the entire law enforcement investigations turned out. As Danny kept bringing up, over and over again, the last time a couple hikers/campers disappeared, it wasn't by accident or due to nature. So the fact that every cop so readily dismissed a second set of campers disappearing, only months after the first incident involving disappearing campers and ritualistic sacrifice of living humans... It occurred to me that everyone in this book was in denial except for Danny and Jed. It seemed like there had been no effort put into the entire investigation, whether on the side of the manhunt to find Nathan, or even about the disappearance of the campers.
And while we might say that the entire town only had one cop who wasn't exactly top notch police material, there was also the state police that kept being referred to. There was no talk about what they were even doing.
And when the first set of campers disappeared, I was actually quite surprised that a full scale Search and Rescue wasn't launched--especially when a child was involved. This just reeked of poor outlining, to be honest. Everyone was all, "They probably just fell in the river, got carried downstream. We'll see them surface at some point." But... what if they hadn't fallen into the river? What if, psycho kidnapping for ritual sacrifice aside, they'd gotten lost? We're just going to leave it to presumption that they probably just fell in the river? The apparently quite shallow river? And got carried downstream?
Is nobody going to even consider the possibility that they might be wandering lost? Even if we don't want to contemplate the fact that there's a kidnapper out there, already running from a statewide manhunt? Why would we take the chance that they could be lost and not send a team in to look for them?
And what if they DID just "fall into the river?" Why are we still NOT looking for them? What if they are still alive in the river? What if they did just "get carried downstream" and managed to climb out of said supposed river scenario? What if a child is shivering to death after being soaked in a river?
And nobody thinks it's worth it to further investigate? Or send SAR out to find this child?
Meanwhile, Danny was pushy and one-dimensional. He was the only person with sense in this book, but he let his emotions and his dick lead his actions. But otherwise, he didn't really stand out much.
Every other character was also quite one-dimensional, truth be told.
I liked Mandy's brother, Bill. And I liked the dogs. There should have been more about dogs. I have a hard time believing that someone who made a living out of training dogs didn't at least train a few for Search and Rescue. Especially in a town where there are mountains and woods, and apparently campers and hikers get lost on a regular basis, and just fall into rivers and hypothetically get carried downstream, just waiting to be discovered later.
The logic holes in this book are insulting.
That's probably about it.