Author: Nora Roberts
Performed by January LaVoy
Released by Brilliance Audio in May 2018
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Romance, Book Review
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.
With a storyline that is unfortunately all too relevant, Shelter in Place opens with powerful, harrowing and convincingly described scenes of a mass shooting in a mall.
It’s treated sensitively without being gratuitous and isn’t used as a political statement. The book is divided into three parts—Innocence Lost, Passion of Purpose and Proof Of Life and ranges from 2005 up to present day, with some flashbacks.
It’s a typical evening at the DownEast mall. High school student Simone Knox is at the cinema with her two best friends, Tish and Mi. Simone needs a bathroom break fifteen minutes into the movie after ordering a large Fanta. Leaving the bathroom she assumes the noises she hears are from the movie but as she opens the theatre door a man stumbles out, covered in blood and she sees flashes in the darkness.
Blasts and blasts, screams. And people, shadows and silhouettes, falling, running, falling.
Not able at first to comprehend what she was seeing, she ran back to the bathroom and was the first of several who called 911.
Reed Quartermaine works during the summers waiting tables at Mangia, earning the money he needs to put towards his college tuition. As he takes a break and chats to a friend, flirts with a girl selling sunglasses he hears noises that remind him of GameStop’s shooting games….until he sees the stampede of people and realises the gunfire is coming from all around.
Across the mall, he saw a gunman—boy?—laughing as he fired, fired, fired. On the ground, a man’s body jerked as the bullets tore into him.
Officer Essie McVee is finishing up a report on a fender bender in the parking lot of the mall with her partner when they get a message about an active shooter in the mall. They are the first responders. Strapping on their vests they enter a nightmarish scene. In just eight short minutes countless people died and were injured, for those that survived life was never the same. The descriptions are shocking and seeing it through the eyes of several characters really brings home the horror and senselessness of such an act.
The story follows the aftermath and effects on the central characters and those connected to them over a decade. Simone pursues the career of an artist, choosing to withdraw, trying to bury memories while living with her grandmother CiCi, also an artist. Reed and Essie become friends and Reed chooses a career as a police officer. There are years of separate development for Reed and Simone before they are brought together because there is someone out there who isn’t at all satisfied with the outcome of the mall massacre.
This is classic Nora Roberts, the expert storytelling capturing emotions, tragedy, reactions, fleshing out characters and locales, and not forgetting the wonderful relationships and family dynamics. It’s a slow burn and build up after the initial devastating opening, as the growth, development and finding a purpose takes place, giving the reader chance to really know and connect with those survivors whose lives were affected by the events at the mall. I found it compulsive listening and January LaVoy does an excellent job with the narration. The distinction between characters was very good and it was always clear who was talking.
Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including The Liar, The Collector, Whiskey Beach, The Witness, and many more. She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.