Whiskey Beach could be anywhere there is a bluff just above a wind-swept beach. Yet, in one of Nora Roberts‘ latest novels, titled “Whiskey Beach,” the setting has such a strong sense of place, you feel you could just get in your car and drive there.
We know, for example, it is in Massachusetts, on the Atlantic Ocean shore, two and a half hours out of Boston. So, let’s just go and rent a cottage and stop in at Bluff House to see how Hester, Eli and Abra are doing. Far fetched. I don’t think so.
In fact, this Google page shows that many other readers feel pretty much the same way about the location as I do. The fact that this story is fiction is a compliment to Roberts’ ability to completely pull us in to her made-up world.
The two main characters in this story are Eli Landon and Abra Walsh. Eli is a lawyer who returns to his family’s home at Whiskey Beach to get over the stress and trauma of his estranged wife’s brutal murder and the fact that he is the only suspect the media talks about and one cop, who is obsessed with the case, vows to prove Eli’s guilt.
Abra, on the other hand, is an interesting, modern and independent woman who marches to her own drum. She chose to settle in Whiskey Beach because it is isolated and known for its acceptance of people and to escape her own abuse. In fact, she is in the process of making a new life for herself as a massage therapist, yoga instructor and jewellery designer, when she meets Eli through his grandmother’s machinations while the older woman is in hospital recovering from a questionable fall down the stairs of the old house.
Without a doubt, like most of Roberts and J.D. Robb books (a pseudonym she writes under), Whiskey Beach is a complex story with many twists and turns and subplots. Here, for example, are some selections of what Roberts writes on her cover:
“For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore….Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigations after being accused of—but never arrested for—the murder of his soon-to-be-ex wife. He finds sanctuary at Bluff House, even though his beloved grandmother is in Boston recuperating from a nasty fall. Abra Walsh is always there….a woman of many talents—including helping Eli take control of his life and clear his name. But as they become entangled in each other, they find themselves caught in a net that stretches back for century…”
In my opinion, this story is about the power and complexity of unconditional love, the importance of resilience to overcome tragedies, and the role both play in the process of personal and social redemption.
However, it is not for the faint of heart. There are some violent scenes. In fact, at the very beginning of the book, Robert’s has a single page with the image of the ocean, a bluff and an empty beach with the word “DARK” on it. Underneath that word is a quote from Henry David Thoreau: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”
The good news is that by the end of the book, neither Eli or Abra are leading lives of quiet desperation. They have done what they had to do to find both love and the redemption they sought. There is a little hint, however, that one or more sequels may be coming. The last two sentences read:
“The ring on her hand caught the last rays of the sun, flashed, as it had for Landon women for generations. Then, it gleamed in the quieter light, as it once did in an iron chest washed up from the wrecked Calypso….”
Now, of course you have to read the book to understand the symbolism in those words.
I would definitely recommend “Whiskey Beach” because I felt the underlying principles I mentioned before put it above other mysteries.
My rating for this book is 3 1/2 stars out of 5.