Monthly Mini Review
Nightwork by Nora Roberts, narrated by Will Damron – A- I wrote a thread on Twitter about my reaction to this book. I’ve reproduced the tweets below rather than just providing screenshots so it’s accessible to anyone.
I just finished Nightwork by Nora Roberts. 5 stars. Excellent on audio (although I though Will Damron’s accents slipped here – I wasn’t always convinced by his French accent – the narration really was fantastic ). 1/?
The main character is an art/jewel thief. Here I think La Nora taps into the zeitgeist. Booth starts stealing at age 9 because his mother has cancer, can’t work & they can’t pay their regular bills or their medical bills. Very relatable in the US context. 2/?
He starts off picking pockets but then graduates to B&E by age 12. He’s never violent, doesn’t carry a weapon & doesn’t take everything. Just what he came for. Of course at this point he’s stealing from the very rich. 3/?
Some of his thievery is from people who’ve stolen the art or jewels themselves. He becomes, in some ways, a modern day Robin Hood (except not so much of the giving to the poor – he does public service instead by being a (very good) public high school teacher). 4/?
The villain is a Very Bad Guy. He is violent, filthy rich, arrogant, entitled. (Sound familiar?) And he threatens Booth into stealing things for him. In the words of Elvis, Booth is caught in a trap. 5/?
What’s additionally interesting is that law enforcement are barely a presence in the story and Booth runs rings around those that do appear. Zeitgeist. 6/?
In many ways, Booth is the typical NR hero. He’s kind, generous, wickedly smart, handsome, agile. But he’s a thief. Even in being a thief he’s one of the “good guys”. Non violent, not greedy, generous to his family (found & otherwise). 7/?
I have to hand it to NR; pre-Trump I’m not sure I’d have felt so okay with Booth as hero and the various other “morally squishy” characters. And this is even though I’m Australian – I figure the US audience is even more receptive. 8/?
Even GOP-voting readers IMO would probably enjoy the “stick it to the man” vibe & the idea of being smarter than everyone else (except Booth actually is, largely). But Democrats probably like it better; health care barriers, a growing mistrust of the very wealthy & the police 9/?
make Booth extremely relatable. It often doesn’t feel like being “good” or taking the moral high ground gets you far these days. Too many bad guys winning. So an unapologetic thief is hero & I liked him. The book is a cracker. La Nora’s genius continues. Zeitgeist. /fin
Nora Roberts has written many books celebrating police and law enforcement – Shelter in Place was overtly a “blue lives matter”/”not all cops” book IMO; as much as I enjoyed the story that part grated then and it would even more so now. Of course, after I finished the thread I realised that Booth is far from the first or only thief MC Nora Roberts has written (or that I’ve enjoyed) so much of my thread above is probably more about my reaction to the book and things that struck me rather than necessarily deliberate decision-making on the author’s part. Still, the point stands. There was something that spoke to my reaction to the current times in this book and it worked all the better for it.
I had a few small quibbles with the story; how were Booth and Miranda going to explain him to people who knew him before by a different name was the main one. And as I mentioned above, Will Damron’s accent work wasn’t always entirely convincing. Otherwise though, his narration was excellent. Most of the book is from Booth’s POV – although there are some sections in the latter portion from Miranda’s. Nightwork is structured rather like The Witness which is another mark in the plus column. My favourite of Nora Roberts’ books is The Search because I love the dogs but I think The Witness is her best book. Nightwork is right up there with it.