Danielle Steel sweeps us from a Manhattan courtroom to the Deep South in her powerful new novel—at once a behind-closed-doors look into the heart of a family and a tale of crime and punishment.
Eleven years have passed since Alexa Hamilton left the South behind, fleeing the pain of her ex-husband’s betrayal and the cruelty of his prominent Charleston family. Now an assistant D.A. in Manhattan, Alexa has finally put her demons to rest, raising her daughter alone and making a name for herself as a top prosecutor taking on some of the city’s toughest cases.
But as Alexa prepares for her latest case, the high-stakes trial of accused serial killer Luke Quentin, threatening letters addressed to Savannah, her beautiful seventeen-year-old daughter, throw Alexa’s private life into turmoil. Certain that Quentin is behind the letters, Alexa must make the toughest choice of all: to send her daughter back to her ex-husband’s world of southern tradition and memories of betrayal.
While Alexa’s trial builds to a climax in New York, her daughter settles into southern life, discovering a father and family history she barely knows. As secrets are exposed and old wounds are healed, Alexa and Savannah, after a season in different worlds, will come together again – strengthened by the challenges they have faced and changed by the mysteries they have unraveled.
From the gritty chaos of Manhattan’s criminal court system to the seductive gentility of the South, from the rage of a hardened criminal to the tender bond between a mother and a daughter, Southern Lights will catch you off guard at every turn.
A veteran of exploring wealthy family dynamics, Steel now flirts with the thriller, introducing two familiar fixtures, the serial killer and the strong single female attorney determined to get him convicted. Unfortunately, her focus quickly shifts away from New York ADA Alexa Hamilton and her conflict with rapist-murderer Luke Quentin to Alexa's 17-year-old daughter, Savannah, and her relationship with her father, Tom Beaumont, who broke Alexa's heart when he divorced her to remarry his first wife. After Savannah begins receiving threatening letters sent from Luke or an associate, Alexa asks Tom to provide Savannah a haven, which he does over his wife's objections. The visit helps Savannah grow closer to her dad and stepfamily; it also gives Alexa, on weekend visits, an opportunity to heal in classic Steel style, but the resulting courtroom drama feels rushed and inexpert. Thriller fans will be disappointed with all the family bonding, though Steel's many readers will, of course, devour this. (Oct.)