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Hello, I’m azteclady, and have been a fan of Ms Brockmann for close to ten years. She is, in fact, one of only two authors whose books I get in hardback. Oh, and the following review is long-yes, longer than usual even for long-winded me. You’ve been warned.

Dark of Night, by Suzanne Brockmann


The fourteenth title in Ms Brockmann’s very successful Troubleshooters series, Dark of Night concludes a seven book story arc for a number of recurring characters. It is also an extremely difficult book to review without giving away spoilers for long time fans of the series-and entirely impossible to talk about without spoiling those who haven’t read Into the Fire, the previous novel (reviewed here).

Then again, it seems that most hardcore fans (otherwise known as rabid fangrrrrrls) have either read it already or sought out all the possible spoilers leaked by those in the know-including some that proved to be utterly wrong, put out by many people who didn’t know jack-while the more casual readers who aren’t as invested in any one character (or pairing thereof) really don’t see what the big deal is.

(Yes, there are casual readers who enjoy Ms Brockmann’s books quite a bit but are not so invested in a particular character that they would vow to trash/not read/hate a book if so-and-so don’t end up together-my significant other, for example.)

All of the above to say, with quite a bit of pain, that there be a few spoilers in this here review. I consider them very small spoilers, but still. So consider yourselves warned.

In fact, the blurb gives away more of the plot that I would normally share in a review, so read at your own risk:

Taking on the world’s deadliest criminals is what the elite security force Troubleshooters Incorporated does best. But now they face a new and powerful threat from their most lethal enemy yet-a shadowy government outfit known only at The Agency.

For years, operative James Nash has performed ultracovert “Black Ops” missions for The Agency, but when he decides to walk away from their dirty work, his corrupt bosses aren’t about to let him go. After Nash is nearly assassinated, Troubleshooters team leader Lawrence Decker launches a skillful deception to neutralize the threat and protect his friend. With the FBI’s help, Decker fakes Nash’s death, then brings him to a safe house with his fiancée, Tess Bailey, to recover from his injuries and strategize their next move.

Only a handful of people know that Nash is still alive-and fellow Troubleshooters Dave Malkoff, Sophia Gaffari, and receptionist Tracy Shapiro aren’t among them. Believing that Nash is dead and that Decker has begun a romantic relationship with Tess, Sophia settles for second best and begins a love affair with Dave, who has adored her for years. But Tracy puts two and two together, discovering the truth about Nash-much to Decker’s dismay.

As passions flare, Decker struggles to keep his scheme afloat, and to keep Nash alive. But when he finds himself targeted for death, the game turns even more perilous, and Sophia, Tracy, and Dave are swept into the deadly play. Under fire and racing to unmask their relentless adversary, the Troubleshooters know that the closer they get, the greater the risks. But sacrifices and consequences come with the territory. Forced to choose between love and loyalty, they are no longer just solving a crime-they’re fighting for survival.

As usual with Ms Brockmann’s work, there are a number of characters who narrate the action-Jules Cassidy, FBI agent, and Lawrence Decker, Tess Bailey, Jimmy Nash, David Malkoff, Sophia Gaffari, Tracy Shapiro, all Troubleshooters, Inc. employees.

The novel opens with one of the most intense prologues I’ve ever read, told from Dave Malkoff’s point of view. In the actual timeline, this scene happens close to the end of the action, but it bridges the gap between the end of Into the Fire and the events of Dark of Night. From there, the reader is pulled into a roller coaster of action and emotion that doesn’t seem to let up until after the 400th page mark.

And yet… I’m conflicted about my feelings for this novel-to the point that it has taken me three weeks and a re-read to finish this review. On the one hand, I’m vaguely dissatisfied with this novel. On the other hand, I am not quite sure why I feel this way.

One of the main things that draw me to Ms Brockmann’s work is how well she draws her characters. Almost without exception, we are introduced to someone, we form an opinion of him/her, and then we both get to know that person better and to see him/her grow into a better person. So, character development in Dark of Night? Is there, for most of the characters who have points of view/narrative-exception being Tracy.

We are told-by Tracy, by Decker, etc.-how much she’s grown since her introduction to the cast some three books ago. I think, though, that the newcomer to the series doesn’t see much change in her from first to last page of the novel. To them, she is smart, funny, self-aware, capable, good at her job, empathetic and friendly throughout.

Yet for long time readers, the contrast with how we are expected to see her in Dark of Night vs the little glimpse of her in Into the Fire is a little too jarring. While there had been hints of Tracy’s actual personality, intelligence, resourcefulness, etc., here and there in the previous two books where she has a secondary role (Into the Storm and Into the Fire), there is a rather large leap in character development in the two or so intervening months from the end of Into the Fire to the events of Dark of Night.

Even more jarring, though, is being told that Decker has always felt attraction for Tracy.


Color me extremely surprised-even though I was one of those readers of Into the Storm who liked Tracy and who speculated early on that she would be a good match for Decker. But here’s the thing, I cannot think of any one instance in the intervening books were there’s the smallest hint of Decker having given Tracy more than a passing glance or vice versa. Had this been a stand alone novel, I would take the statement at face value and move on, but having read every book in the series more than once… well, it’s a tad disconcerting.

With that said… I loved the chemistry between these two. Loved. It.

Tracy’s brashness is the perfect counterpart to Decker’s self-containment. Here is a man who has kept himself apart for most of his adult life, and a woman who doesn’t recognize barriers. This is one of those cases for which the phrase, “opposites attract” was coined. Note, I don’t know what, other than work and sexual chemistry, these two have in common, and wouldn’t want to bet on their long term chances (so a wedding in three weeks would probably made me wince) but the potential for a healthy relationship is clearly there.

And I for one, am rooting for them.

Moving on…

Dave Malkoff has been a favorite character of mine since his introduction in Flashpoint. From online discussions, I know that some readers found him either too geeky or too passive, as well as a little too willing to step back from pursuing Sophia-in deference to her stated love for Decker, or perhaps because Dave always thought Decker couldn’t but love her back.

(Me, I fell head over heels for the man who was sick enough to put his own IV on, after hours spend alternatively helping dig out kids from a buried school and vomiting his guts out. But that’s not in this book, so… moving on.)

I have wanted Dave to find happiness with someone who loves him just as much as he loves her, and for a long while I doubted that his regard for Sophia could ever be returned with the same depth and breadth of feeling. I’m happy to say that by the end of the novel I was convinced that Sophia can and does love him back with the same intensity-even if he is still the more outwardly giving of the two.

No, I don’t see his selflessness towards Sophia as doormat-tendencies. I think that for far too long Dave saw himself as the geeky best friend who never gets the girl who continues to offer his shoulder, his ears, his help and his love to his beloved, asking for nothing in return. In fact, expecting to get nothing beyond friendship. If having Sophia returns his desire was, therefore, much more than Dave would have ever thought possible, it’s easy to imagine how difficult it would be for him to accept that she actually loves him right back.

As for Sophia, this is the book where I like her the most, frankly. I have liked her well enough for the most part-save her fixation with Decker and her seeming obliviousness of Dave’s feelings for her. The first took some of Sophia’s strength cred, in my eyes, and the later felt a little too self-centered. Plus, did I mention that I adore Dave?

However, I really liked how Sophia held her own in Dark of Night, and her realization of the depth of her feelings for Dave. And having her hold a-finally!-sincere conversation with Decker? Well, that just put icing on the cake for me.

Where Jimmy Nash and Tess are concerned, I’m a bit less clear. Don’t get me wrong, this is a couple I have liked from the word go, but I don’t think they have an easy road ahead. A bit easier by the end of the novel than it’s been in the years since the events of Flashpoint, yes, but not easy. Nash may have stopped drinking and womanizing, but he is still insecure about his own self-worth-and thus, insecure about Tess’ love.

Finally, I love all the other cameos and secondary characters. Having Sam Starrett chop veggies with a K-bar knife while dispensing relationship advice? Priceless. López saying, “maybe it’s just my day to see everyone I know naked”? Priceless. My favorite, bar none, though, is having Robin grab half of the sandwich Sam makes for Jules. Or rather, how that scene shows the continued growth of the relationship between these two.

And as usual, the dialogue-both internal and between characters-is great. One can hear these people think and talk like… well, real people.

So that takes care of the characterization and relationship angles, and we are left with the suspense side of the novel… and here is where I am most conflicted. There is a higher than usual level of implausibility in Dark of Night which, for me, wasn’t as well balanced with what the characters-as real people-would do, as usual in the Troubleshooters books.

For example, I had some issues with some of the people involved, as well as with who wasn’t involved. For example, we are to believe that Jules undertook-on his own, unsanctioned-an operation of this magnitude on the strength of his knowledge of Decker and Nash. I can accept this. But I have trouble accepting that, in the two months since, Jules hasn’t approached Max Baghat-who is both his boss and a close friend-and explained the situation.

Color me skeptical on that one.

On the same vein, I can understand Decker stressing the importance of keeping the secret between a minimum number of people, but not telling Tom? Tom, who is not only the owner and head of Troubleshooters, Inc., but also the man who hired Nash only because Decker asked him to. Doesn’t quite jibe with Decker as we know him.

I won’t even go into how it would seem that way too many  SEALs and assorted other Navy personnel seem to be strangely available—during our previous President’s tenure, mind—to spend time doing stuff with, and for, Tommy and his company.

The impression I got through the first three hundred pages of Dark of Night is that this is a well-funded group, and while not necessarily huge, at least big enough to cover all the bases-surveillance, intelligence, direct spying, etc. To say that the truth let me down is to understate the case.

Because Ms Brockmann works hard, during the first three hundred and oh, eighty? ninety? pages to show the reader that the bad guys are not just eeeeevil, but nigh omnipotent. Not only have they managed to manipulate Jimmy Nash for years, but also have kept their trail so well covered he-well trained, resourceful, smart, nigh-invincible himself-hasn’t been able to sniff their identities out.

What really and truly irked me, though, was the last ten pages. The pacing, which had been almost frantic up to then, suddenly just… stopped dead. No more showing, just some-quite brief-telling.


I mean, I can see that this novel is already over four hundred pages and perhaps there is some fear that the reader would put it down if it went on much longer but really, the last chapter? It felt as if someone had said, “Okay, that’s it-wrap it up”.

So I am torn. What I love about Dark of Night, I truly love. What I didn’t like, really bothers me-and this is mostly on the continuity-within-the-series aspect.

8.25 out of 10

Dark of Night is available through amazon.com here and through amazon uk here later this year.


  • Jennifer
    February 19
    12:20 pm

    I have to say I skimmed most of this book. I found myself only interested in the Decker/Tracy scenes. I’ve been a big fan of the author’s work, in fact years ago I picked up a random copy of one of the early Troubleshooters books (Kenny’s story- I can’t remember the name) and liked it so much I searched out more romance novels. (Previously I never read romance, thinking it was all purple prose and rape like the 80’s Fabio books my Mom hid in the back of her bookshelf) So I felt a little disappointed that this book didn’t totally connect with me(with the exception of Decker/Tracy- their scenes were quite good).
    As an aside, I always assumed that Decker/Sophia would happen but didn’t particulary care that she changed the pairing. Oh, and I also never saw any indication in the previous books that Decker was attracted to Tracy.


  • Riley
    February 19
    12:25 pm

    Azteclady, What did you think of the comment by Sophia at the end of the book when she says that in one way she is jealous of Decker and Tracy but in another way she is not?

    Personally, I think that comment makes it impossible for me to believe that Sophia is truly in love with Dave, to the depth that he is with her.


  • Tracy and Decker are going to split in about 12-14 months when the pheromones wear off, if they make it that long. ‘Cause 4 days ain’t enough to make a relationship and I’ve found zero evidence that Deck wanted anything to do with Tracy before (and I even went back and looked in earlier books because it was such a ‘huh’ moment). As much as I disliked Dr. Jo, I agree with whoever mentioned elsewhere that they thought there was more spark between Deck and her than between him and Tracy. And I just cannot see neat freak Decker with slob Tracy…

    Sophia and Dave will stick together longer since they have a reason, but Dave’s justified insecurity and inability to believe that Sophia loves him and Sophia’s ‘I love him because he is there and he loves me’ BS will ruin their relationship eventually, screwing up the folks around them.

    If Brockmann felt Sophia/Decker wasn’t going to work due to their baggage (which I can see), it would have made much more sense to me to find them new non-baggage partners; and I felt Dave deserved much better.

    This book felt like a total redaction of all characters. I was laughing at Sam’s relationship advice, too, in disbelief.

    And at Dave the super agent. I did find a couple mentions in earlier books that said he was a much better agent than he looked at TS, but sorry, a guy who has sex for the first time in his 30s with a woman who’s out to kill him and gets an STD in the bargain is not James Bond… so that whole conflict she manufactured for Sophia just felt off.

    I can see how the relationships in this book might work for folks who read this as a standalone and didn’t see how these characters acted and interacted in the last 7 books. However, I didn’t recognize any of them and this book was a continual ‘huh, really?’ for me.

    I didn’t read any of these books for the suspense plots and this one is indeed even more implausible than any earlier books, but since I only read it because I wanted to see if she could make me believe in the Sophia/Dave and Tracy/Decker thing, that part didn’t bother me all that much. It does go into the minus column though and this book has many.

    My biggest issue was that I just didn’t care. I got to chapter 2 and I put it down for 2 weeks because I was just bored. I had to force myself to make it through the first 100 pages, but then the story did pick up for me and I finished the rest in a day.

    After I finished it, I kept feeling that there should have been more, that the book wasn’t finished and I think that has to do with the fact that the main action is 4 days and then a couple short ‘tell’ sections which comprised another 5-6? weeks, when I felt such a drastic left turn in the main relationships should have been developed over months at the very least.

    While others find her long story arcs to be innovative romance, to me they have gone beyond romance and I’m just not willing to follow, especially since I originally felt she was trying to pull one over on her fans with these new pairings. My main reason for thinking that was that she’s too good an author to have been this bad at planting seeds and foreshadowing through the 6 earlier books in this arc.

    Now I think she didn’t lie to us, she lied to herself… because it’s plain sad if an author has to rewrite multiple characters from her earlier books to try to make a new development plausible and even so fails.

    It really is too bad, because as much as I don’t believe in the HEAs for S/D and T/D, Brockmann left me with a 24 hour buzz in which I wanted to read more about these people and there’s that little voice that wants to know what happened to Izzy and Eden…

    Thanks for writing your review, AL. I’d been mulling these things trying to formulate my thoughts for my LJ reaction, and now it’s all in writing, so I can just copy and paste it there! 🙂


  • sallahdog
    February 19
    2:22 pm

    Thanks for the review. Your review just encapsulates some of my problems with her last several books. For me though, its the huge cast of characters, all getting their own story arcs that have made these books hard for me to LOVE.. I mean, I like them while I am reading them. But because so much happens and yet very little happens to any one couple or person, the books just don’t “stick” with me anymore.. I have to go back and look at older books for answers and honestly can’t remember the books by title alone.

    I still like her books, I just tend not to buy them anymore, if I do, its not in hardback…


  • Riley, I took Sophia’s declaration like this: Tracy doesn’t have the baggage with Decker that Sophia and Dave do, plus Sophia *did* love Decker for a while.

    Yes, it was probably more hero worship and gratitude than true love, but still.

    And Dave was there when Sophia was rescued. Dave saw her scars when they were still fresh. Dave saw her, still shell-shocked, right after that clash with Decker. That’s a lot of baggage to bring into a relationship.

    I do believe they’ll (Dave and Sophia) will work it out, but in a way it’s easier for Tracy and Decker, since they are beginning with a cleaner slate, so to speak.

    Growly, while I don’t completely agree with your take, I’m glad I could help–even in so peripheral a way.


  • willaful
    February 20
    1:29 am

    I felt very much as you did. I was convinced by the way the relationship between Decker and Tracy grew, which made me all the more irritated by the retconned and utterly unnecessary attraction depicted in the first half of the book. The mental lusting was both useless and boring.


  • Riley
    February 20
    11:04 am

    Azteclady, I took the comment to be that she is settling for Dave, deep down she’ll always have feelings for Decker.

    I just don’t find the Dave/Sophia HEA believable or even enjoyable to read. If Sophia and Decker were not going to end up together I think both of them finding other partners outside the TS world would have been a more engaging story.

    But it’s good that some people out there liked it. Because there is nothing worse then reading a romance and hating the main couple.

    Shalladog, I feel the same as you do, there’s way too much happening in her books now, it’s overkill. Which is too bad, and it’s a bit of a trend I think. JR Ward does the same thing, along with Robyn Carr. I wish these authors would listen to just a tiny bit of reader feedback because so many readers out there feel the same as I do. Even when people like the books in this latest ‘style’ they always, always point to the author’s earlier works when naming their favs.


  • Arch
    April 21
    5:48 am

    Decker never was in love with Sophia. I understand that Decker had issues, which one of Suzanne’s heroes never had issues. Yet, when another of her heroes was in love with a woman, he made it known. Decker didn’t want to fix things with Sophia. He didn’t want to talk about what happen between them. In truth, Decker just wanted to get laid, even if it was from a prostitute. At first that’s what Decker thought that Sophia was and in his mind, he didn’t care. He haven’t had sex in a long time. What made Decker sober up, is when Sophia tried to kill him.

    Even in Flashpoint, Sophia told Decker that he was in love with Tess and yes, Decker was in love with Tess. There’s a reason why Nash would always throw to Decker face, about him being in love with Tess. Decker would deny it all the time, but he was in love with Tess, but didn’t go there, because Nash went there.

    Decker found Dr. Jo attractive.

    I know that some people wanted Decker to wind up with Sophia. That’s why a lot of people are against Dave. They don’t like Dave. They don’t see him as hero material. Well, Dave has been a hero since Flashpoint.

    If Decker truly loved Sophia, he would have made sure he seen about her in Into The Fire, before going after the bad guy. Sam would have saved Alyssa first. Nash would have saved Tess first.

    Decker was a little hurt that Sophia moved on.

    IMHO, Sophia always had feelings for Dave. She always found him to be attractive. In Flashpoint, she stated that he was going to be her second husband, no make that her third husband. In Into The Storm, while in that cave, she wanted to kiss Dave as badly as he wanted to kiss her. They both were feeling something towards one another in that cave. I know that some people disagree, but it’s there. Even in Into The Storm, when Sophia went rescue Dave and Decker from their wreck, she was more concerned about Dave. She even gotten mad at him for not telling her that he has been hurt as well.

    There’s no excuse in my eyes, why Decker wouldn’t want to be around the woman he loves. He wasn’t in love with Sophia. He even made that known in Dark of Night.

    I don’t believe that Sophia is still in love with Decker. Which, to me, she was in love with “Decker the hero” and not “Decker the person.”


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