"The Search," Nora Roberts

Pros: Wonderful new setting and characters; plenty of plot twists
Cons: None
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group


I’m becoming addicted to Nora Roberts’s standalone novels even more than her series books. Black Hills was fantastic, and now she’s written The Search. Once again the setting becomes a character unto itself, and she takes the chance to explore not just a romantic relationship, not just a suspenseful crime plot, but also a community, a way of life, and a career. This time we follow along with Fee, Fiona Bristow, a dog trainer who owns and trains search and rescue dogs. Fee has settled into an idyllic life on an island in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by family, friends, and her loyal dogs. Years ago, however, she survived a nightmare—she was the sole woman to escape a serial killer, and before he was caught he killed her fiancee as revenge.

Things start to get complicated for Fee the moment Simon, a reclusive artist, shows up on her doorstep with Jaws, an energetic and disobedient pup in need of training. Of course to really train Jaws, Fee will need to train Simon, too—and that’s a whole different ballgame! Simon is cranky at best, rude and obnoxious at worst, and he does not like to do what he’s told. Oddly, however, his bluntness and candor, however hurtful, are refreshing to Fee, and she can’t help but feel intrigued. That’s when fate throws them a curve ball, however—although the serial killer who stalked her is still in jail, he seems to have a copycat. And that copycat has made it clear he, too, has his eye on Fee.


I admit, when I first started reading The Search, one of my original thoughts was, “oh, the copycat serial killer who goes after the one woman who got away. That’s kind of an overdone plot, but Nora’s good, so it’ll be a fun read anyway.” After all, I love novels like Black Hills and The Search for their amazing characters and setting, and it’s really the window dressing that makes the book. However, I shouldn’t have assumed she wouldn’t have some aces up her sleeve with regard to the plot! I won’t give anything away, but I will say that she definitely does some interesting things with it that I wasn’t expecting, and by the end of the book she’d made it fresh again for me.

The serial killer plot, however, isn’t the meat of the book: that’s the wonderful setting and characters. Nora accomplishes something I didn’t think she’d be able to: she made me grow to like Simon grudgingly along with Fee. At first I was wondering how on earth she was going to turn him into a romantic lead, because he was annoying, rude, brusque, etc., and too much so. She pulled off a believable change over time, however, in which I slowly got a better idea of what he was really like underneath, and also saw him change in response to the people and events around him, leading me to want the relationship to succeed. I was quite surprised and pleased! Fee, too, is hardly your stereotypical romantic lead. She’s strong, solid, calm, and competent. She doesn’t look like a fashion model; she isn’t high-strung; and she doesn’t spend her time obsessing over fashion or brand names.

I love the window into the world of canine search and rescue, as well as dog training. The search and rescue aspects lend a bit of extra excitement to things, while the dog training is interesting for me since I know little about dogs (and I felt like I learned a few things here). Nora uses both to add flavor and interest to the book, and to provide a beautiful and unique backdrop to events. All in all, a gorgeous, full, complex exploration of a community, a killer, and some fascinating lives.

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8 comments on “"The Search," Nora Roberts
  1. Teresa says:

    I was so prepared to hate you – you already read thos much-coveted book. But how could I, after you so kindly shared both your view and bit of preview of MY much-desired Nora new book?

    I was also glad to see that you enjoyed Black Hills as most of the times I think I must have read it worng as not many people warmed with it and I really loved it. Like you say in The Search those side tracks and characters that enrich the book make it a great reading…

    Thank you for sharing!!!

  2. heather says:

    Teresa: Well I’m glad you don’t hate me, and that I could give you an early peek! 😀

    I think the difficulty many people had with Black Hills was one of expectations. Folks see mention of a serial killer plot and expect a fast-paced, lean procedural. That isn’t what Nora is writing, and the sheer size of the book alone should have tipped people off to that. These books are much more about the people than the events.

  3. Karen says:

    Between work and mommy-hood I’m way behind on my Nora Roberts. I’m finally catching up and just ordered The Search online after reading your review. I’m really excited to read it. Thanks for inspiring me to tackle a new book!

    Custom Closets Chicago

  4. Ian says:

    I have only read one of Nora Roberts’s books before but will have to check out The Search based on this review. Thanks for the next book idea.

  5. James says:


    You say that motherhood does not allow you much time to read those books. But nowadays, a lot of helpful options exist. One of the ways is – instead of buying hard cover book, download it as an ebook from internet in the form of pdf file. In PDF, you have the option of getting the text read to you instead of you having to do the reading.

    You can just enable that feature and listen to the book while you go about your household chores or look after your baby. How awesome is that!

  6. Virginia says:

    I had exactly the same thought when I started to read this novel: “… he copycat serial killer who goes after the one woman who got away. That’s kind of an overdone plot”, – you said. But I must absolutely agree that this has not been the plot that kept me reading. The characters are so bold and live that the whole novel stands absolutely apart from similar crime stories.

    Great read, thanks a lot for sharing.

  7. Karen, if you have a smart phone, you can download it to that. You would be surprised how much reading you can get done in between chores and errands when you have a smart phone with you.

  8. Darren Engelking says:

    I’d read a few books of Nora Roberts, although I haven’t read “The Search” yet. Based on your review, it sounds like a good book. The Search is a suspense-thriller, plus a romance sstory on the side, which I definitely like in a book.

    Her books under the pseudonym J.D. Robb are a must-read too.

    Darren Engelking

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