Fiona Bristow foiled an attack against her by a serial killer. Years later, a seeming copycat is intent on finishing the job her original assailant couldn’t. The Search, a 2010 novel by Nora Roberts, is the story of Fiona and the romance she develops with her new boyfriend Simon while the copycat closes in. She’s a strong and scrappy woman; Simon is a strong and superficially insensitive man who simultaneously makes her heart sing, curls her toes, and stands side-by-side with her to face down the threat.
The Search is well-written, suspenseful, the characters are engaging, and it’s all designed for a female audience. I read it because it appeared on lists of books involving military or search-and-rescue dogs. Dog training is a consistent element or theme throughout the book. Fiona trains dogs for a living and does search-and-rescue work as a volunteer. Her job and the volunteer work are successfully woven into the storyline. However, the dog training seems to be a one-dimensional tool that Roberts uses to reveal Fiona’s character and to give Fiona insights into her would-be killer. The dogs get assigned names and a couple personality traits, and the reader learns a bit about search-and-rescue operations, but it’s a little thin. The dogs don’t get quite as much attention or reward in the end as I would think they deserve.
That being said, Nora Roberts intended to write a woman-in-distress romance and not a search-and-rescue book, so it’s not her fault I picked up a copy to read. I cannot fault Roberts because some people may have exaggerated the extent to which this novel focused on search-and-rescue dogs. Roberts did a great job and wrote a satisfying conclusion, so I give it four stars out of five, but this book really wasn’t for me.