Blue Smoke

Nora Roberts, Author . Putnam $25.95 (437p) ISBN 978-0-399-15306-8

Romantic suspense queen Roberts (Blue Dahlia , etc.) lights up Baltimore's Little Italy with this appealing story of love, family, food and arson. Eleven-year-old Reena Hale, watching her family's restaurant go up in flames, decides to become an arson investigator. The fire shapes another child's destiny, too, as Joey Pastorelli sees his father go to prison for setting the blaze. Reena's close-knit Italian family rebuilds; Reena grows up and completes police and firefighter training. Despite inheriting her mother's good looks, Reena proves unlucky in love, mainly because her beaux tend to die in fires, but her fortunes look up after she meets hunky carpenter Bo Goodnight. Bo gets along with Reena's family, friends and co-workers, and handles the demands of her career with patient humor, so nothing stands in their way—except an obsessed, pyromaniac stalker determined to kill any man Reena loves. Although it does take Reena an inordinately long time to identify her nemesis, Roberts portrays investigative procedure more accurately than her many imitators. Well-sketched supporting characters with potential subplots of their own suggest that the prolific Roberts will put her feet to the fire again. Main selection, the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club . (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
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