In her latest fiction, “Nightwork,” prolific author Nora Roberts presents a romance that is filled with action. The main character, Harry Booth, grows up learning to steal because his mother is dying of cancer and can’t pay the bills. Before he hit the age of ten, he learned to pick pockets and made enough money to support him and his mother. His aunt Mags helped, but she alone couldn’t make enough money from their cleaning business to make up for his mother being unable to work.
And when his mother died of the cancer way too young, Harry lived with Mags, finished high school, and continued his unconventional “career” and began saving his money. Harry was talented at stealing. He also had rigid morals that included never hurting anyone, never stealing from those he know, and never being greedy. His rules, his intelligence, and his ability to camouflage and “change” into different people served him well, until he did a job for a ruthlessly venal, rapacious, and wealthy man, Carter LaPorte.
He was barely out of his teens when he worked one job for LaPorte, helping out a friend. But he did the job so well, so perfectly, without taking anything extra, that LaPorte, a man without morals, decided he wanted to own Harry. He wanted Harry at his beck and call, and when Harry balked, he threatened everything Harry held dear. His aunt, his girlfriend, the life he built in North Carolina at the university there, all at risk because of LaPorte’s greed.
So Harry did the only thing he felt he could. He left the university, the girl, North Carolina. He did the job and then disappeared, traveling the world in various disguises. He hid successfully from LaPorte for many years, until finally he found his love again. And at that point, he know there was only one way to be free. His morals didn’t allow killing, so he had to figure out a way to escape from LaPorte’s clutches.
The action and the dialogue move swiftly. Roberts spends a lot of time creating Harry’s backstory and we learn about his childhood and how he began his life of thievery. We see firsthand the relationships he builds in New Orleans, and in Chapel Hill. And we are happy for him when he finally settles down to a relatively quiet life, still hiding from LaPorte. But we know the time will come when he must regain control of his destiny. And we can’t wait to see how he does it.
Roberts excels at writing complex, action-driven plots and “Nightwork” is certainly that. We like both Harry and Miranda, his love interest. Miranda is intelligent, determined, successful in her own right, and equal to Harry in her demand to share equally in their fate. They make a fabulous couple, and reading about the progression of their relationship is fabulous. Equally fascinating is all we learn about breaking and entering, picking pockets, and the art of the steal.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for review purposes.