Home at Last is something of a departure for Katherine Stone.
Traditionally her books have been large, complex stories with multiple
romances. Her latest release is much tighter, focusing solely on the
relationship between the hero and the heroine and taking place primarily
over a short span of time. It is also more definitely a work of
romantic suspense. Since it kept me up till 2:30 last night, the
suspense must have worked.
Lucas Hunter is a lieutenant in the New York Police Department with a
very special talent. He is able to get into the minds of criminals
which has made him invaluable as a hostage negotiator. In fact, as the
book opens, he has just returned from Australia where his actions had
defused a very dangerous situation. He arrives home only to be thrust
into another mess. A man is holding eight sick little girls hostage in
the wing of a hospital. He has a grenade and is threatening to set it
But that is not all that awaits Lucas. A serial killer is on the loose
and he is killing women who have some connection with Lucas Hunter. As
he works to save the girls, he becomes aware that evil is at work, that
the killer has struck again.
Galen Chandler is the very new anchorwoman on one of New York's most
popular stations. Galen had been a reporter on a court TV network. Her
transition both to an anchor position and to New York had not been
smooth. Indeed, she has become the favorite target of the city's most
powerful and ruthless gossip monger.
As the hostage situation escalates, Galen comes to Lucas with an
important piece of information. She had visited the hospital floor and
knows that one of the girls is the daughter of a famous tycoon. Lucas
believes that Galen, like most news reporters, will not hesitate to
broadcast this dangerous piece of information. So he promises her an
interview, a promise he has no intention of keeping.
But something about Galen - her unconventional clothes, perhaps or her
aura of fragility - convinces Lucas to talk to her. And he discovers
that she will not in fact broadcast any information that might be
harmful (which probably helps explain why she is not a great success as
a news reader.)
This brief encounter might have ended their relationship, but then the
killer zeros in on Galen. She will be his conduit of information, his
mouthpiece (and perhaps his victim.) Since Lucas needs to be privy to
the murderer's thoughts and since Galen needs protection, he moves her
into his apartment and listens in on the horrifying, sick conversations
the murderer forces on his target. Trust me, they are pretty sick.
The forced association brings Galen and Lucas closer together and begins
to break down the barriers that each has constructed against love. And
they are sure high barriers. Each has dreadful personal histories and
Lucas has the additional burden of his unwelcome but invaluable ability
to enter into the minds of criminals, to think like them. These were
characters I cared about and rooted for. They deserved their happy
Although Home at Last does not have the sprawling nature of most
of Stone's novels, it still has considerable complexity in its plotting
and characterization. It also has Stone's patented use of medical
matters to further the story. The mystery managed to keep me guessing,
which is not always the case in romantic suspense novels.
Finally, there is Stone's writing. I spent some time tonight trying to
figure out what it is about her style that is so singular that I
actually hear her voice. I truly believe that I could identify Stone's
writing if I read any chapter in any of her books. I can say this about
very few authors. And darned if I can figure out why. I think
there is a certain starkness and clarity in her prose, a certain rhythm,
that I just hear. Whatever it is, I like it.
Home at Last certainly passed my "put down" test. I didn't want
to put it down and I didn't.