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Shy, studious Irene Stenson and wild, privileged Pamela Webb had been the best of friends for one short high school summer. Their friendship ended the night Pamela dropped Irene off at home-and Irene walked in to discover her parents' bodies on the kitchen floor. It was ruled a murder-suicide, and Irene fled Dunsley, determined to wipe out every memory attached to her northern California hometown. But now she has been summoned back.
Pamela's e-mail had been short and cryptic. More alarming, it included the code word they had used as teenagers, suggesting an urgency and a secrecy that puzzled Irene. What could be important enough to make her former friend get in touch after all these years? She won't find out--at least no from Pamela, who lies dead in the luxurious home of her father, a U.S. senator, pill and liquor bottles beside her. The shock has barely subsided before the rumors begin to swirl.
Irene had planned to get out of this place as quickly as possible. But her reporters's instinct--and her own hunger to know the truth--compel her to extend her stay at the local lodge. Even more compelling is the man who runs the place-a hazel-eyed ex-Marine who's as used to giving orders as Irene is to ignoring them. Luke Danner can see the terrified young girl hidden beneath Irene Stenson's black-clad, confident exterior--and he is intent on protecting her. But he is also driven by passions of his own, and together they will risk far more than local gossip to sort out what happened to Pamela Webb, and what really happened on that long-ago summer night.
Not my absolute favorite of Krentz’s books, but solidly in the upper half. As a long-time Krentz fan, Irene and Luke felt familiar to me, not because she always writes the exact same characters (she doesn’t) but because her protagonists do tend to share certain general characteristics: both often have a quirk or a past that has made it difficult for them to sustain a relationship with someone else; both usually blend toughness or strength with vulnerability; they’re courageous, tenacious (or stubborn), and have a strong sense of justice or need for the truth. Irene and Luke fit those parameters, but they also have qualities that make them individual, from Irene’s careful self-control to Luke’s deceptively laid-back innkeeper persona. I would have liked more depth from the secondary characters, however.
I also enjoyed Luke’s and Irene’s relationship in this book, particularly as she comes to trust him. Even before that, you can practically see the sparks between them; it’s not a question of whether they will get together, but how, and how that will both change them and validate who they are.
The Northwest small-town setting works well, adding an atmosphere that is comforting and forbidding by turns as the mystery unfolds piece by piece. I didn’t anticipate the surprise toward the end, despite knowing that Krentz often adds unexpected twists to her plots.
The only thing I don’t like about All Night Long is the killer’s motive. It’s a topic I find difficult, not due to personal experience, but simply because it horrifies me. Unfortunately, I see no way to warn other readers with the same sensitivities without giving away a major plot point, so just be aware that while most readers will be fine, a small percentage may be uncomfortable or even triggered.
On the whole, if you enjoy thrillers and/or Jayne Ann Krentz, I recommend All Night Long. I’ve read it several times and will probably read it again, so despite my issues with the motive, I’ve clearly enjoyed the book.