This book is not a romance. It is a mystery with a romantic subplot. It is dark, gritty, the villain is truly evil yet sad and sympathetic at the same time, and it is a definite page-turner. So don’t pick up Bone Cold just before bedtime.
Harlow Anatasia Grail was considered a Hollywood princess. Daughter of an actress and plastic surgeon, she was a prime ransom candidate. She was kidnapped at the age of 13; before she made her escape, her kidnappers cut off her pinkie finger and she witnessed the murder of a friend.
Over two decades later, she goes by Anna North and lives in New Orleans working for a florist. Anna is starting to have some success as a mystery novelist. She thinks her life is under control until she starts receiving letters from an 11-year-old girl, Minnie. The letters strike Anna as odd and she fears Minnie may be a kidnapping victim. She takes her concerns to a police detective, Quentin Malone, who brushes off her fears. Then Anna’s identity is revealed on national television. Suddenly her publisher is threatening to drop her unless she agrees to capitalize on her past, and her friend Jaye, for whom she is a mentor, disappears after fighting with Anna about her secret identity. Anna once again goes to the police. Quentin agrees that Anna has a right to worry about Jaye, but with Jaye’s past history of running away, it’s not likely she was a kidnap victim.
Quentin meanwhile is more worried about a murder that points to his partner at the perpetrator. He tells Anna the murderer’s MO when he meets her at a club. Anna, angry with him for not listening to her theories, leaves the club and is followed. Quentin comes to her rescue. That night another woman dies – a woman who resembles Anna. Soon letters arrive from Minnie that hint at Jaye’s whereabouts, and a woman is killed and her pinkie is cut off. Quentin realizes the intended victim is Anna.
The author deftly handles the suspense storyline. The reader knows Anna isn’t paranoid, but you can see why the cops think so. The villain’s hatred towards Anna is well explained and believable. This isn’t your average psycho with an imagined gripe, and that makes the villain that much more dangerous. It is a person with nothing to lose because they’ve already lost everything, including their identity.
Unfortunately, I was more interested in the villain than I was the hero and heroine. Anna isn’t very likable. She lives in a constant state of fear because her kidnapper wasn’t caught. Though perhaps realistic, it also gives her an air of paranoia and self-pity with which it is difficult to identify. Her relationship with Quentin seems abrupt and I never really thought these two were in love. They hardly talked about anything besides the case and Anna seemed to be using sex for comfort. Quentin for his part is okay, but not very fleshed out, and some decisions he made at the end of the book didn’t ring true.
Bone Cold is not for the weak of heart, and people who are sensitive to violence towards children or uncomfortable with kidnapping stories should think twice about reading it. If you want a lot of romance, look elsewhere. But if you want a suspense novel that will keep you turning the pages and guessing at each turn of the plot, run to the bookstore immediately for a copy of this book.