Come Sundown is in the genre of thriller, however, I would classify it as a thriller, crime, mystery, detective, realistic fiction and romance.
Part one starts with a prologue where the reader meets Alice. Even for 1991, I found the story line slightly unbelievable or perhaps this is part of my own naivety. Roberts does not linger too long on this horrific opening and moves on to Chapter one in the present day.
Here the scene is vividly set of the Bodine family who span four generations and live in Montana on a combined ranch and modern resort. Bodine (unusual in having a first name the same as the original family surname), is the central character, although it’s really everyone’s story. Bodine is an efficient, discerning and caring manager of the resort. She is the middle child with Chad her older brother and Rory the younger. Her parents are Maureen and Sam and the grannies aged 70+ and 90+, are so impressive. The three siblings are, for a change, all amicable and genial in their differing roles of power and responsibilities and in the running of the ranch and resort with its many employees.
A lovely web of a family. Meet Callen Skinner, a childhood friend of Bodine who has returned from years away to work on the ranch. He once lived on the property next door, since purchased by Bodine’s daddy. Could this be the complication?
Suddenly the author swaps the scene back to 1992 and we are drip fed what has happened to Alice. Yes, she is still alive in a cellar, yes she is captive, constantly abused and shackled, yes she goes through childbirth, feeling a moment of joy, to be quickly followed by more anguish and abuse as her baby is taken away by “Sir”. Sir has renamed Alice, Esther.
I love the author’s continual and clever interplay between the detail of the Bodine family and with the short horrible pictures she creates of the captive Alice. The reader knows there has to be a connection and is compelled to read more.
Back to the present and we see the capabilities of Bodine emerge as one of her staff, who she also regarded as a friend, is murdered late at night after her shift. The enmity of old scores and issues is also revealed between Callen and Garret Clintock who has also returned (from the army MP) to the nearest town and represents the law.
Callen is initially employed for the ranch. Bodine loses two of her main resort staff at the same time and Callen has the skills she needs to fill this void. Several other staff are also interviewed for key or assistant positions. Two of these are Jessica and Chelsea in management positions. All make a wonderfully cohesive and cooperative team with all family members. Callen, along with his beautiful remarkable horse Sundown proves to be an invaluable asset for both the resort and ranch.
Yet another brutal murder of another female, again from a broken down car and late on a snowy night takes place. Garret Clintock sets his sites on Callen.
A link is finally revealed between the Bodine family and Alice. What a revelation!
The end of Part 2 is a sudden swap to Alice but in the present. So many years have elapsed, so many childbirths. Is she still captive? Where are her children? Where is “Sir”?
There is a heart-rending climax about halfway through in the story. However, Nora Roberts intertwines this as an ongoing but pivotal event as the saga continues. The linkages and interactions keep the reader riveted, intrigued and full of apprehension on every level right through the second half of her book. The reader can see the romances blossoming and this softens, to a degree, the trauma of the psychopathic behaviour lurking constantly in the background.
Come Sundown by the highly skilled, talented and acclaimed Nora Roberts, is a must read for all. It is published by Hachette Australia and is is available now from Dymocks. Click here to learn more.