Pros: Intense characters and plot
Cons: Pace lags slightly toward the late middle/early end
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I’ve only read a few of Shiloh Walker’s books, but I already look forward to each new one with quite a bit of eagerness. Fragile didn’t enthrall me quite as much as Through the Veil or The Missing, but Ms. Walker is such a good author that we’re talking fine degrees of craft, not a noticeable lack of quality!
Luke Rafferty left the army for the ER in search of a normal life, only to find that he’d traded the horrors of the battlefield for the heartbreak of the abused children brought in by social worker Devon Manning. For Devon’s part, each day at work is a terrible challenge that brings her back to her own traumatic childhood on the streets—but she’s determined to make a difference to these kids the way someone once made a difference to her.
Luke has been falling in love with Devon as he’s watched her care for her charges. He’d like to get to know her better, but the walls she’s built around her are going to be hard for him to break down. And things are only going to get harder when someone with a grudge targets Devon, breaking into her house, terrorizing her, and putting her life in danger…
Fragile is about the delicate balance of vulnerability and strength that can be brought on by trauma. It’s about love in the face of insurmountable odds. And it’s about suspense, mystery, and terror.
This definitely isn’t a clean-cut procedural where the horrible details of the crimes and victims are held at arm’s length. If you read it, you’ll feel for the characters and the terrible events they live through. But you won’t pity them—instead you’ll be right in there pulling for them as they struggle with themselves and each other.
There’s plenty of suspense and fear, not to mention plot twists, to keep you occupied, but of course the star of the show is the complex and strained relationship that develops between Luke and Devon. This is definitely an adults-only book due to sexual content and crimes.
The characters are detailed and wonderful, and show off Ms. Walker’s talent in particular at creating strong and unusual people that have plenty of surprises in them. The atmosphere is dark and tense, expertly crafted. The pace seemed to lag slightly at one point, but it was a very minor complaint.
All in all, this is an excellently crafted mystery and romance!