Friday, October 23, 2009
By Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor
While romantic suspense books featuring serial killers probably aren’t going to go away any time soon, I do get the feeling that some readers have grown jaded when it comes to these books. In fact, a friend of mine recently referred to a serial killer plot as a “romantic suspense cliché.”
Given my undying love for romantic suspense, I still enjoy a good serial killer book. But it’s true that for me to luuurrrvve it, the author needs to do something to make this tried-and-true device new again. Which is what makes the husband-and-wife writing team of Aimée Thurlo such a joy to read.
Every book I’ve read by Thurlo puts a unique twist on the romantic suspense sub-genre. "Navajo Courage" is no exception, delivering edge-of-your-seat suspense deeply rooted in the American Southwest and steeped in the Navajo culture.
Someone is killing women in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the county sheriff’s department quickly realizes that the murders have ritualistic elements to them. So they call in Navajo Tribal Officer Luca Nakai, the son of a medicine man and, unbeknownst to them, also a member of the secret Brotherhood of Warriors, an elite force of Navajos which exists to protect “the People” from harm.
Detective Valerie Jonas is assigned to work with Luca, and it doesn’t take him long to confirm her suspicions that the killer is likely Navajo. In fact, all signs—coyote hair on the body, wounds from a blade made of bone, a special poison scattered around the scene—point to the killer's being a skinwalker, or someone who practices Navajo witchcraft.
As Luca and Valeria trail the killer -- who prowls Albuquerque’s shadowy corners wearing a coyote skin -- they find that they’re always two steps behind him.
They also find that the attraction between them is becoming hard to ignore. But they couldn’t be more different; Valerie is Scully to Luca’s Mulder, and she doesn’t know what to make of Luca’s talk of magic and mysticism. And it’s not just their spiritual beliefs that diverge. Luca’s the strong, silent type, prone to moments of such quiet calm that she often rebels by turning into a motormouth around him.
As things get physical, Valerie knows that Luca will go back to the Reservation when the case is over, and there’s no place for her there. She belongs in the city, doing what she does best and what she loves—solving crimes. But the more time passes, the more she knows that Luca will leave a large, blank space in her life when he leaves her. Can she get him to open up to her enough to admit his feelings? And even if he does, can there possibly be a future for them, when they’re from such different worlds?
"Navajo Courage" is the perfect Halloween read, delivering genuine chills wrapped up in a heartwarming romance between two characters who practically jump off the page. If the sigh-worthy guy on the cover grabs your attention, you won’t be disappointed by what’s on the pages when you …
Buy the book.
If you read romantic suspense, do you think the serial killer plot is over? And what favorite scary books or movies are you going to be revisiting this Halloween—if you even like to scare yourself at all?
Posted by Michelle Buonfiglio at 7:29 AM