Very good - but needs concentration (minor SPOILERS),
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This review is from: Dark of Night: Troubleshooters 14: Troubleshooters 14 (Kindle Edition)
I first came into Suzanne Brockmann via her Mills & Boon Tall Dark and Dangerous series, then found Her Troubleshooters [TS] book Gone Too Far, an early entry into the series. I have read them in order ever since. The other reviewers have done excellently in explaining the overall storyline - the pairings in this book are Dave Malkoff and Sophia Ghaffari and Lawrence Decker and Tracey Shapiro and a continuation of the Jimmy Santucci-Nash/Tess Bailey relationship.
The early TS books were somewhat standalone, however Dark of Night is part of a linked quartet. We meet Dave, Sophia and Tess and have Tess paired up with Nash in Flashpoint. It's one of my favourite TS books because Suzanne Brockmann gets all the elements balanced right - you have your romantic tension, your action, some genuine "issues" that aren't cavalierly dismissed with a paragraph of therapy, including not shying away from the religious and cultural belief that women are not just inferior but not even human. The book is also a favourite because it is well-written in terms of the deep, close heterosexual friendship between Nash and Deck, despite - I would argue because of - both being appropriately masculine and not a whiff of feminazi New Man or politically correct bigotry around either of them.
After that we get Into the Storm (Troubleshooters) which introduced Tracey Shapiro - a buxom blonde twentysomething airhead with impractically long nails who ends up as the TS Inc. receptionist more or less by default and has the receptionist/PA/admin/secretarial skills of a gerbil; but nobody can bring themselves to fire her as she moved out to try and save her relationship with her preppy prissy boyfriend who has dumped her after doing a number on her self-esteem - too busty, too hippy, etc.
The TS Into the Fire: A Novel (Troubleshooters) starts to bring them all together, various issues from Dave and Nash's past are seriously biting them in the posterior and it all implodes at the end.
This novel is therefore impossible to read and understand unless you have read at least the previous three mentioned. It also brings in a variety of other TS characters as everyone rallies round to help Nash and Dave finally defeat the corrupt government agency forcing Nash to essentially commit murders by threatening to kill his best friend Deck and his girlfriend Tess. Most of these characters will be utterly baffling to anyone not familiar with the series as a whole.
What's good about Dark of Night for me is two things - first, Nash and Tess. Generally speaking, a romance novel gives you a HEA and even later books in the same series act as if these people don't exist, despite supposedly being sister/brother/best friend etc of the main characters. Suzanne Brockmann is good in that instead of endlessly churning out new characters from book to book we get to see secondary or minor characters from previous books get their moment in the spotlight - we know them, we like them, we're interested in them and we want positive things for them - which is a good marketing tool if nothing else. She does a similar thing to what they did in A Town Called Eureka - Season 4.5 [DVD] wherein the recurring characters from Season 1-2 are gradually developed into main cast by seasons 4-5 over a period of a couple of years (Niall Matter as Zane Donovan, Erica Cerra as Jo Lupo, Kavan Smith as Deputy Andy, etc). We know the characters, we're familiar with them and interested in plotlines about them - Suzanne Brockmann has shrewdly used the same technique in her TDD and TS series.
Whilst I really enjoyed Flashpoint, it was obvious that Nash had some real secrets and realistically, if it had stayed HEA in the face of that, Tess Bailey wouldn't have been feisty and intelligent, just a wimpy doormat. That Tess has decided, with great reluctance, to end her relationship with Nash over his secrecy and his bad behaviour, is very realistic, a positive message to women and it enables Suzanne Brockmann to give us another Nash/Tess HEA that is more grounded in reality. Two for the price of one, not bad.
The other good thing (SPOILER alert) was the twist with Deck/Sophia not actually being Deck/Sophia. It again is also very psychologically and emotionally astute of Suzanne Brockmann to showcase how infatuation and a crush can become a habit and how infatuation and love are not the same thing. Ever since Flashpoint readers were led to think that it would be Deck/Sophia. but in DoN Sophia thinks she's been in love with Decker for a couple of years since Flashpoint. Dave has been in love with Sophia sicne then when he met her too, but believes he has no chance as a nerd versus Navy SEAL. Deck is sexually attracted to Sophia but not romantically interested because he is deeply ashamed of his sexual need to be submissive to his female partner, a need he has ignored and buried deep and thus has been celibate for a long time. The events in the book make Sophia realise that she has been crushing on Deck as a "safe option" because she knows he will never reciprocate, thus giving her the time to heal emotionally and physically from her ordeal, but that she is in real danger of losing out on the chance of happiness with Dave who has decided to stop mooning about and move on unless she gets her act together.
We also see the Deck/Tracey situation handled with sensitivity. EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey has caused a lot of attention to be focussed on sexual discipline in a relationship and unfortunately not in a good way. Tracey Shapiro however is very forthright in her reassurance to Deck that as long as the answer to "do like it when I do that?" is yes, then "game on". I admit that there is not much traditional HEA in terms of Deck/Tracey - their fledgling relationship is clearly very much one that is cautiously developing and they aren't in love with each other so much as they find each other compatible and reliable; but Deck realises that he can trust Tracey not to use his need to be sexually disciplined and submissive against him, and Tracey is helped to grow in confidence by Decker's trust - Tracey is the only one who has figured out that Nash is not really dead, but has been silently helping Deck and Co perpetrate the cover up and just "getting on with it". Deck is impressed by this perception and competence on her part. And of course, in this book we finally get to see the real Lawrence Decker, who for most of the series has been pretty much just a silent and deadly name, with no information around him.
In fact, that aspect was the weakest part of DoN. After Into The Storm later books show that Tracey's problem is confidence not capability - she fell in love with her on-paper-perfect corporate businessman boyfriend and believed him when he blamed all their problems and his cheating on her inadequacies. Later books show that Tracey is actually getting there as TS' receptionist and not being such a klutz, but I think there was further for her to go in that development before DoN - the upchange from airhead oblivious to everything other than a hangnail to blithe co-conspirator "yes of course I figured out Nash was alive" was a bit too abruptly done from the last book to this one.
All told, I'd say Flashpoint, Into the Fire and Dark of Night remain amongst my favourite TS books. However, one issue that I do have to mention is that they are not all available on Kindle as ebooks, so if you want to understand what's going off with DoN, you need to get the others as books and read them first, then come back to your kindle.