Harbor Island (Sharpe & Donovan, Book #4)
by Carla Neggers
Release Date: August 26th 2014
2014 Harlequin MIRA
Softcover Edition; 352 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Suspense
Source: Review copy from Meryl Moss Media Relations
3 / 5 Stars
Emma Sharpe, former nun
and granddaughter of world-renowned art detective Wendell Sharpe, is a
handpicked member of a small Boston-based FBI team. For the past decade
Emma and her grandfather have been trailing an elusive serial art thief.
The first heist was in Ireland, where an ancient Celtic cross was
stolen. Now the Sharpes receive a replica of the cross after every new
theft—reminding them of their continued failure to capture their prey.
Emma receives a message that leads her to the body of a woman on a
frozen island in Boston Harbor, she finds the victim holding a small,
cross-inscribed stone—one she recognizes all too well. Emma's fiancé,
FBI deep-cover agent Colin Donovan, is troubled that she's gone off to
the island alone, especially given the deadly turn the thief has taken.
But as they dig deeper they are certain there is more to this murder
than meets the eye.
Harbor Island is the fourth book in the Sharpe & Donovan series, and while I enjoyed it, it was one of those quick reads where the plot didn't quite develop into anything remotely suspenseful, and when the end came, it actually caught me by surprise, not because I hadn't figured out who was responsible for the murder, but because it happened rather suddenly with little development.
The plot actually continues from the previous novel, Declan's Cross, about the theft of several pieces of art stolen several years ago centering around Saint Declan; this time the plot goes back and forth between Ireland and the United States and we are left pondering how the two fit together. With a mix of suspense and romance, the author tried very hard to blend the two genres, but I don't think she quite succeeded on either count. I thought the plot lacked direction and felt even the author wasn't quite sure she knew where she was going with it throughout the novel. I also felt quite frustrated over the constant references to Emma being a "Sharpe" and how this would be a hindrance as an FBI agent as well for her family in their daily jobs. For someone not familiar with the novels, who perhaps read this as a stand-alone, they would have no idea from this novel what being a "Sharpe" was all about and to be honest, even I, who have read all of the other novels, found it to be really annoying. Either make Emma special by having her stand out from everyone else, which she definitely did not do in this novel, or put that concept to rest, it's getting tired.
Although I figured out who was responsible for the murders quite early into the book, I tried not to let that deter me from enjoying it. Like I've already mentioned, I did find certain aspects enjoyable, but only because I stopped thinking of the novel as a suspense novel, and began thinking of it as contemporary fiction, which is not how I am reviewing it. I didn't find the characters as engaging as usual and I was half hoping maybe Aoife was the actual thief as it would certainly liven things up and make things a lot more interesting than they were. The most interesting person by far was Father Finian Bracken and he really had nothing to do with the mystery, but I began looking forward to reading about him just to get away from the hum-drum investigation. I am very curious about him and hope he has his own adventure very soon.
Harbor Island is one of those novels that is a quick read if you're looking for something for the beach, but is easily forgettable once you are finished. It does continue the storyline from previous novels so I would recommend reading these books in order as they would make more sense. However, I did find the plot to be somewhat mundane and boring, and I wasn't as keen on the characters this go round. Perhaps Ms. Neggers will do some shaking up in the next round?