When a guest slips out of Cate Nightingale's Idaho bed-and-breakfast, he sets into motion an elaborate chain of violence. The seemingly minor matter of a missing toiletry bag leads to an entire town being held hostage, with tragic results. There's a long set-up to the action, during which the bad guys' plans and motivations are unusually clear. We learn a lot about contract killers, how they operate and how they prepare for jobs.
Despite a protracted, ultimately futile hike in the last third of the book, the reason for which seems to be to give the lead characters some "alone time," the story trots along at a quick pace.
Linda Howard has written a well-planned story with fleshed-out, realistic characters. The hero, Cal, starts out as a "beta" hero, shy and awkward, but when violence threatens Cate and her children he quickly transforms into a true "alpha" man, with all the guns, wilderness skills, and honor required of heroes.
Cate spends much of the first portion of the book mooning over her sainted late husband before realizing what a hottie her handyman/protector is. With realistic, flawed characters, a quick pace, and gripping suspense, "Cover of Night" is a winner of a story.
In the charming rural town of Trail Stop, Idaho, accessible to the outside world by only a single road, young widow Cate Nightingale lives peacefully with her four-year-old twin boys, running a bed-and-breakfast. Though the overnight guests are few and far between - occasional hunters and lake fishermen - Cate always manages to make ends meet with the help of the local jack-of-all-trades, Calvin Harris, who can handle everything from carpentry to plumbing. But Calvin is not what he seems, and Cate's luck is about to run out.
One morning, the B&B's only guest inexplicably vanishes, leaving behind his personal effects. A few days later Cate is shocked when armed men storm the house, demanding the mystery man's belongings. Fearing for her children's lives, Cate agrees to cooperate - until Calvin saves the day, forcing the intruders to scatter into the surrounding woods.
The nightmare, however, is just beginning. Cate, Calvin, and their entire community find themselves cut off and alone with no means to call for help as the threat gathers intensity and first blood is drawn.
With their fellow residents trapped and the entire town held hostage, Cate and Calvin have no choice but to take the fight to their enemies under the cover of night. While reticent Cal becomes a fearless protector, Cate makes the most daring move of her life . . . into the very heart of danger.