Book Review

Manhunter by Loreth Anne White: A Guest Review by Test Driver Karen

A

Title: Manhunter
Author: Loreth Anne White
Publication Info: Harlequin 2008
ISBN: 0373276079
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Book CoverOkay, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit I’m kind of biased to like this book to begin with as it TAKES PLACE IN CANADA, OMG.  Seriously, Harlequin, I’ve read two books set in Canada from you guys in the last couple years.  Can we get some more Can-Con up in here, already?  Are there no opportunities to have Canadian cops/ex-military/CEOs/playboys/cowboys/insert hero trope here?

Also, I’ll admit to a

 

complete addiction

 

slight bias for angsty law-enforcement types.  This may or may not have something to do with

 

Jack Bauer being my TV boyfriend

 

my being a fan of a few suspense/mystery series featuring that type.

So with that out in the open, let’s move on to what other people should like about the book, shall we?

RCMP Staff Sergeant Gabe Caruso hasn’t been the same since his fiancee was murdered by a serial killer he captured a year before.  Still dealing with the guilt and grief, he accepts a posting to the remote Yukon town of Black Arrow Falls, where he meets Silver Karvonen, expert tracker and owner of a hunting lodge.  Silver has her own emotional trauma that she’s still dealing with, but more importantly when it comes to the new Mountie in town, she has secrets to hide.  Secrets that might not stay that way for very long when the killer from Gabe’s past comes looking for revenge, and when Silver and Gabe realize there’s a strong attraction between them.

I initially found out about Manhunter from a review on Dear Author, and it was one of the first books I got as soon as the Reader arrived.  Holy damn, am I ever glad I did, because I literally could not put this one down. Tightly plotted, with interesting characters, it packs a pretty good punch for something that runs about 370 pages in the Sony ebook format.

The best part of the characters is the balance that White manages with them, the layers that give them life.  Gabe is haunted by his responsibility in what happened a year earlier, but doesn’t wallow in it.  Not only did he take the posting in Black Arrow Falls to get away from places that held memories for him, he also did it because of feelings of anger from that day that still linger, still scare him and make him unable to trust that he wouldn’t take it out on someone else if he stayed with the homicide squad down south.

Silver keeps many people at a distance, and Gabe in particular, but doesn’t tip over into bitchy to do so.  She holds back from him for reasons that are completely believable when we find them out, but not so much that we want her to just drop the attitude already and make with the snogging.  She’s strong, capable, and an expert in her field.

But even better is when the two characters come together.  From about mid-way through the book, they’re a team, equals, with their own strengths and weaknesses.  There are a couple cases where their stubborn pride gets in the way of doing what the person who knows their shit tells them to do, and while it sometimes starts heading toward TSTL territory (Gabe, when Silver tells you to back away from an angry bear, you back the fuck away), it never quite reaches it.  While a little annoying, it stays within the realm of “this is what a real, pigheaded person would do”.  Their arguments are resolved fairly quickly, and when Gabe finally learns Silver’s secret, he doesn’t shrug it off or condemn her off the bat.  And it’s a real secret with some possible consequences, not some pansy-ass secret that makes you roll your eyes.

White’s descriptions of the setting are also well done, evoking the setting in a way that allows the reader to see the setting and the action clearly in their mind’s eye.  She also uses it well to ramp up the tension, as a winter snowstorm traps the town’s inhabitants with the killer, cutting them off from the outside world.

And the tension, she does get ramped.  I was reading the climax on lunch at work and was very reluctant to turn off the reader and get back to work.  For a book with a shorter word count, the suspense plot is relatively straightforward, and most importantly, isn’t really separate from the romantic plot; each one drives the other. 

Now okay, you’re probably wondering if I’m going to say anything negative at all about this book.  I mean come on, it can’t be perfect, right?  Well…it’s close?  I mean, like I said, there are a few spots where the romantic leads can do some things that verge on TSTL.  Probably thanks to the short word count, we don’t really get to see much of any of the other characters with any real depth, which would help if this is going to be a series (*makes beggy eyes*).  And okay, a little bit of the setup is, well, kinda like Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights (which I also loved).  Though the “cop with trauma moving to small town” is kind of a common trope to start with.

But other than that, seriously, love this book.  I reread it in preparation for the review and gobbled it up yet again.  I’d even recommend it to those who don’t usually like romantic suspense.  In case you couldn’t tell, I’m giving this one an A.

Now can we get some more Canadian boys over here, Harlequin?  I mean come on, we’re not all frozen wilderness.

 

Manhunter is available through Amazon, Powells, Harlequin, Fictionwise, & Book Depository.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    sally says:

    Hey Sarah,
    You mis-wrote the title: “Manhunter”, not “Man Hunting”.  Can you tell that I know this because as soon as I finished your review I immediately went online to buy it?

  2. 2

    I just want to say how much I’m enjoying seeing additional reviews at SBTB, and I’m finding the info on the ereaders very helpful as well.  Keep up the good work!

  3. 3
    earthgirl says:

    Hmm. I have a deep weakness for books set in the Yukon, so I may have to check this out.

  4. 4

    I’ve been meaning to read this one!  Loreth Anne White does a lot of international settings and multicultural characters, which I love.

  5. 5
    militaryspouse says:

    Bah! Every RCMP Sgt. I know is in his 50s, 70lbs overweight and would avoid a far north posting as much as he would love to meet a Victoria Secret’s model.

    But kudos for not putting him in Red Serge on the cover!

  6. 6
    Janet W says:

    I’ll lay my Canadian cards on the table … I lived in the Yukon … my youngest brother was actually born in Dawson City. You can be sure I’ll track this down, LOL. Thanks for the review.

    That being said, an A? That’s such a high standard that it throws me off somewhat. I have hundreds of books on my keeper shelf but the number of them that I’d give an A to are pretty small. How does it compare with a book like Northern Lights (Nora Roberts)? For me, NL is a total keeper, probably high B+.

  7. 7
    Niveau says:

    You had me at “it TAKES PLACE IN CANADA” – why oh why are there so few books set up heeeeere? I’ve always wondered about the lack of books with Canadian settings published by Harlequin, since they’re, y’know, partially based in Toronto and all?

    My favourite part of this review? “Gabe, when Silver tells you to back away from an angry bear, you back the fuck away.” I would’ve wanted the book even if it wasn’t set in Canada just to read about that act of pure stupidity.

  8. 8
    Zoe Archer says:

    Canada?  What is this strange place you call Canada?  You mean that giant expanse of land north of AMERICA?  Nope.  Never heard of it.

    Srsly, though, I should check this out.  I lurve books set in the Yukon.

    **teeny plug**  I have a historical paranormal adventure coming out Fall 2010 that’s set in the Northwest Territory. /plug

    Meanwhile, I’ve got a stupid cold today, so maybe a category suspense is just what I need to keep my mind off feeling like dookie.

  9. 9
    Ashley Ladd says:

    Looks like a fab book I’ll have to get when I finish Sherryl Woods latest.

    I’d love to read more Canadian romances. Doesn’t that depend on what people write? Unless Hqn puts out a call for something specific like that.

  10. 10
    SB Sarah says:

    Canada?  What is this strange place you call Canada?  You mean that giant expanse of land north of AMERICA?  Nope.  Never heard of it.

    Yeah. Canada. America’s Hat.

    And thanks for the correction on the title, Sally. My bad!

  11. 11
    Jamie says:

    Zoe Archer said:

    **teeny plug**  I have a historical paranormal adventure coming out Fall 2010 that’s set in the Northwest Territory. /plug

    Now is that the Northwest Territory, which later became part of the US as Ohio, Wisconsin, etc., or the Northwest Territories, which is part of Canada and is actually next to the Yukon?

  12. 12
    Janet W says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nunavut … ok, that would be Nunavut: wikipedia to the rescue! Actually my middle son’s roommate at HS lived there.

    You know this may be the next new sub-genre: Nicola Cornick is working on a book with a Regency lady and an explorer both (I think!) in the high Arctic. I cut and pasted this from her website … and it’s a Harlequin Historical! Love ‘em :)

    Whisper of Scandal

    A new Regency historical set in London and the Arctic! (Yes, I like to try different and unusual settings for my stories!)

    When Lord David Ware, an eminent Arctic explorer, dies, he leaves his secret illegitimate daughter to the care of his wife and his best friend. Fashionable Ton hostess Lady Joanna Ware and Alexander, Lord Grant disagree from the moment they first meet, so how are they ever to stay civil long enough to join forces and rescue the orphaned baby girl?

    Saving Nina takes them from the celebrity salons and balls of Regency London to the frozen wastes of the North Pole and tests both of them – and their emotions – to the very limit… For what will happen when their hostility turns to an equally passionate desire?

    Whisper of Scandal is the first in a new series for HQN Books called Scandalous Women of the Ton.

  13. 13
    Susan/DC says:

    No matter what real life RCMP officers look like, I’ve had a fondness for them ever since Paul Gross played one in “Due South”.

  14. 14
    Zoe Archer says:

    Now is that the Northwest Territory, which later became part of the US as Ohio, Wisconsin, etc., or the Northwest Territories, which is part of Canada and is actually next to the Yukon?

    You caught me!  This is what happens when authors post when sick.  My book is set in the Northwest Territories, largely in the Canadian Rockies near what would be known as Banff.  (I also took artistic license and described places that are on no existent maps, but it’s part of the plot.)

  15. 15
    PK says:

    Thanks for the review.  This book came through on one of my Twitter recommendation sites and I am sashaying out to the Kindle store ere long to make a purchase.

  16. 16
    Jasmine says:

    I like the review and it certainly sounds like this book deserves an A. 

    However, I just wanted to comment that there’s been a distinctly high amount of A/A-s in the guest reviews and I wonder if they stand up to the usual Sarah and Candy harsh scale.  Or if possibly you have your have your chance to put a review on the site you just pick a good book!

  17. 17
    mamaphoenix says:

    Yeah I’m a little non-nonplussed by all the A /A- reviews over the weekend.  Most of them sounded like Bs to me.  Maybe we need some tandem reviews (two people reviewing the same book together) to get some perspective here.  There is also less snark and fun.

  18. 18
    Silverflame says:

    I am questioning the A reviews as well.  It is SO difficult to get an A from the SB’s.  Historically you have to either be Laura Kinsale on her best day, or The Spymaster’s Lady.  Using other A novels as a measuring stick, do these last few books really hold up?  Is the writing impeccable?  Are the characters complex and likeable?  Is is MORE than your run-of-the-mill romance novel?  That is what I expect from an A book, and the books that have received A’s from this site have NEVER let me down.  IMO, an A is reserved only for those very rare books that are so outstanding you can hardly believe it; not just for books you loved to read and had a great plot.

  19. 19
    DianeN says:

    Re A reviews—we’ve all got our own measuring standards, and I know for sure that there are books I’d give As to that might be someone else’s C+ or B-. It happens. And I doubt very much that Sarah or Candy are expecting these reviewers to meet THEIR reviewing standards. So if you’re in doubt about an A you meet here, why not google the title and find other reviews??

  20. 20
    liz m says:

    Well, whenever mine hits it certainly won’t be an A and I know there’s a few others. I think it’s partly wanting to choose a book you liked because you’ve an opportunity to be on SB, and partly the desire to be kind since HQN kindly let test drivers choose books they wanted to read. I actually considered not reviewing the first one I read and waiting for one I liked ‘better’. And I was slightly kinder toward it then I would’ve been if it was an Amazon review. But not much.

  21. 21
    Britanon says:

    My book is set in the Northwest Territories, largely in the Canadian Rockies near what would be known as Banff.  (I also took artistic license and described places that are on no existent maps, but it’s part of the plot.)

    More research would be in order: Banff is not in the NWT, it is hundreds of kilometers south, in the province of British Columbia.

  22. 22
    Aimee says:

        My book is set in the Northwest Territories, largely in the Canadian Rockies near what would be known as Banff.  (I also took artistic license and described places that are on no existent maps, but it’s part of the plot.)

    More research would be in order: Banff is not in the NWT, it is hundreds of kilometers south, in the province of British Columbia.

    Correction, Banff is in Alberta, one province east of BC. It’s a beautiful area and fantastic skiing: http://www.banff.ca/home.htm

  23. 23
    militaryspouse says:

    Paul Gross as a Mountie.  That show was so bad it was good. 

    Paul Gross is from Calgary which like Banff is in Alberta.

  24. 24

    Nice review—detailed enough yet not wordy, still concise. You touched on everything important. It makes me want to read it!

  25. 25
    jakekny says:

    Oh this sounds great.  You girls have gotten me addicted to these romance novels and I have to ride the train everyday without the anonimity of an ereader.  I’m a boy but I’m a sucker for love.  I love you.

  26. 26
    jakekny says:

    also your crossed out lines always make me laugh out loud! xo

  27. 27
    Suze says:

    My book is set in the Northwest Territories, largely in the Canadian Rockies near what would be known as Banff.  (I also took artistic license and described places that are on no existent maps, but it’s part of the plot.)

    Is it an historical?  The Prairie provinces were originally part of the Northwest Territories, before they became provinces.  And the RCMP were originally the Northwest Mounted Police, sent out west to control the lawlessness and the cowboys and suchlike.

    Because an historical set in the Canadian West?  That would be really cool.  There’s a lot of interesting, dramatic stuff that went on in that area in the 19th century.  I remember going on a road trip in Saskatchewan with my grandma when I was little and climbing a REAAAALLY steep hill (I know, Saskatchewan.  Still, there are hills) and looking out over the landscape at a bunch of markers that showed the trail that Sitting Bull took.

    Getting the area’s name right is pretty important to the locals.  I read the novelization of the first X-Men movie, and the location when we first meet Wolverine is Alberta, British Columbia.  Which is kind of like saying a place is Nevada, California or Louisiana, Texas.

    MMMmmm, historical romance in the Wild Canadian West.  ME WANT!

  28. 28
    jakekny says:

    Suze did you ever read Mrs. Mike?  I read it when I was in grade school but I think it’s right up your alley.

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