Time of Departure by Douglas Schofield (Minotaur-Dec. 1st)–Time of Departure reminded me a bit of Dean Koontz’s Lightning, and that’s a good thing. 31 year old Claire Talbot has just taken a new job as Felony Division Chief at Florida’s Eighth Circuit State Attorney’s Office, and while her boss Sam is very supportive, others in the office not only resent her for the promotion, but it stings even more since she’s young, and a woman. She doesn’t let it get to her, however, but she’s barely settled into her new office before a stack of files land on her desk, left for her by an “older guy” that wouldn’t leave his name. Turns out they’re documents containing information on eight women that were abducted in the late 70s, but no bodies were ever found and the cases remain unsolved. Claire has no idea why anyone would send her these, and she’s mystified when she is sick to her stomach while reading the documents. When she’s attacked by a man when getting into her car, a mysterious “older man” named Marcus comes to her rescue, and she finds out that he’s the one that sent her the documents. When two bodies are found that are thought to be two of the missing women, Marcus finally convinces Claire to take a look at the case, but Claire never could have imagined how deeply entwined she is with these women, and with Marcus.
I hesitate to give away a lot about the plot, but if you’ve actually read Lightning, you’ll probably guess at a fair bit of it. The author combines a chilling murder mystery with a sweet love story (I’m a sucker for May/December romances-see The Blue Hour by T. Jefferson Parker), with twists aplenty. Claire is smart, tenacious, and tough (seriously-she keeps a machete on hand for home protection,) and her love affair with Marc seems to be a natural progression, even though they’re brought together by traumatic events. Schofield writes with an irresistible urgency, and presents a genuinely creepy and compelling thriller. It’s hard not to fall for Claire and Marc, and readers that like a little romance with their suspense will love this one.