Desperado

Lord of the Desert

Matt Caldwell:
Texas Tycoon

Midnight Rider

Paper Rose

Once in Paris

The Winter Soldier

 
Before Sunrise
by Diana Palmer
(HQN, $16.95, R) ISBN 0-373-77041-3
***
Diana Palmer is one of those authors whose books are always enjoyable. She throws in romance, suspense and a good storyline. Before Sunrise is a good contemporary book. There is nothing new here however, despite the background of the Indian tribes and mountains of the North Carolina setting. Misunderstandings and a mediocre murder mystery keep it from being better.

Jeremiah Cortez is part Comanche, part Spaniard. He grew up valuing education and the traditions of his heritage. His grandfather was well educated, yet was a shaman who had the power of seeing certain things in the future. This insight provides a bit of paranormal to the tale. Jeremiah became an FBI agent, spent time in the CIA and finally settled in as a prosecutor. In a case trying to track down a polluter, he ran across a beautiful girl, to whom he felt a lot of attraction. He was even thinking of a long-lasting relationship, despite the ten-year difference in their ages. But family obligations pulled him away.

Phoebe Keller was that young woman. Phoebe was instantly attracted to Jeremiah and was certain they had a future together. Her background in anthropology was a great asset to him in solving that case in Charleston. When he left, she was sure they would get together. But one day a few weeks later, she got mail that only had a clipping of Jeremiah's marriage to another woman. Devastated and angry, she left Charleston and found a job in a little town in the mountains of North Carolina at a Cherokee museum. She was alone but determined to make a life, although she has never forgotten her sense of betrayal.

Three years have gone by and Jeremiah comes to Chenocetah and finds Phoebe there. He is in the area because of a murder on the local reservation. He is now back with the FBI assigned to a Native American taskforce and is a widower with emotional scars of his own. Phoebe is knee-deep in the murder investigation. An unknown man had called her saying he had discovered a Neanderthal skeleton on a construction site. That man ended up dead, and Phoebe was the last to talk to him.

The rest of the tale involves the murder investigation and the relationship between Phoebe and Jeremiah. To keep things interesting there is local sheriff deputy Drake Stewart who has been courting Phoebe, even though she sees him as just a friend. Jeremiah arrives with his first cousin Tina and his three-year-old son Joseph. Then there are the many murder suspects, as the murder seems to stem from stolen artifacts and two local construction projects.

Palmer has written a tale that is easy to read. It is well paced and includes humor, intrigue and some hot sexual scenes. I never knew two people who could steam up a car like these two. Yet, Jeremiah and Phoebe are so wary of each other that they allow themselves to jump to wrong conclusions rather than talking about concerns. This diminishes their relationship somewhat. The mystery is not that interesting…other than the fact that Phoebe is in danger and everyone wants to protect her. It serves only to provide the backdrop and give a reason why Jeremiah and Phoebe are together a lot.

Overall, Before Sunrise is a satisfying reading experience. Because it is pricey and not one of Palmer's best efforts, I suggest you wait for the paperback or get it from the library.

--Shirley Lyons


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