Note: Due to the length of my written thoughts, I have broken this up in to multipleparts. Don’t feel compelled to read the whole thing. I admit that I needed some closure on this book- and found writing about my reaction to the story to be remarkably cathartic.
Dark of Night – Part 1: Mostly about Sophia and Dave
Dark of Night – Part 2: Decker and Tracy
Dark of Night – Part 3: General Thoughts
Brockmann, Suzanne. Dark of Night. (New York: Ballantine, 2009). ISBN – 9780345501554.
Main Characters: Sophia Ghaffari, Dave Malkoff; Lawrence Decker, Tracy Shapiro
Related Works: This is part of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. Other books in the series include the following:
- The Unsung Hero – story of Tom Paoletti and Dr. Kelly Ashton
- The Defiant Hero – story of Meg Moore and John Nilsson
- Over the Edge – story of Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok & Teri Howe; Max Bhagat and Gina Vitagliano meet
- Out of Control – story of Ken “Wildcard” Karmody & Savannah von Hopf
- Into the Night – story of Mike Muldoon & Joan DeCosta
- Gone too Far – story of Sam Starrett & Alyssa Locke
- Flashpoint – story of Jimmy Nash & Tess Bailey; Sophia Ghaffari & Decker meet; Dave meets Sophia also
- Hot Target – story of Cosmo Richter & Jane Mercedes Chadwick; Jule Cassidy & Robin Chadwick meet
- Breaking Point – story of Max Bhagat & Gina Vitigliano and Molly Anderson & Grady Morant
- Into the Storm – story of Lindsey Fontaine & Mark Jenkins
- Force of Nature – story of Ric Alavarado & Annie Dugan and Jules Cassidy & Robin Chadwick
- All Through the Night – story of Jules Cassidy & Robin Chadwick’s wedding
- Into the Fire – story of Vinh Murphy & Hannah Whitfield
- Dark of Night – story of Sophia Ghaffari & Dave Malkoff and Lawrence Decker and Tracy Shapiro
- Hot Pursuit – story with Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke; Jennilyn LeMay and Dan Gillian meet
Description from book:
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 as The Agency.
For years, operative James Nash has performed ultra-covert “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 fiance, Tess Baily, 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 Ghaffari, and receptionist Tracy Shapiro aren’t among them. Believing that Nash is dead and that Decker has begun a romantic relationship with Tess, Sophia setles 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.
Sophia and Dave
I’m not entirely sure where to start. I finished the book late last night, and there have been so many thoughts running through my mind since then. First off, I can totally understand some of the very positive reviews of this book. If it weren’t for my previously formed attachment to a Sophia/Decker HEA, this book might have become one of my favorite Troubleshooter books – right up there with The Unsung Hero, Over the Edge, Gone Too Far, and Breaking Point.
However, I did buy into the Sophia/Decker pairing, and as such, am not satisfied with the resulting Sophia/Dave and Decker Tracy couplings. I can say that I do understand how Brockmann came to put these characters together. She convinced me, to a certain extent, that Sophia and Decker might not have been able to have a HEA. I buy this argument. Yet, if this is where the story arc was going all along, I think all of Sophia/Decker emotional angst, which mostly came from the fact that all of the people around them believed very strongly that Sophia and Decker loved each other, was rather unnecessary (I would say unfair, but I believe that an author has the right to write things as she sees them, and unfair is too harsh).
In Dark of Night, Brockmann gives us a much clearer view of Decker and if his reaction to his first encounter with Sophia – where she somewhat forced oral sex on him and then tried to kill him. We have never been privy to his thoughts about the event – a fact which I don’t think I actually got until reading DoN. We learn, here, that it isn’t so much that Decker developed (or harbored) feelings for Sophia, but that he learned something rather disturbing (to him – not me) about his sexuality from their encounter. I got this part. I believe this. I couldn’t imagine what Brockmann could come up with to make me believe that this scene wasn’t about starting a HEA for these two. But, she did – and she did it well.
As the relationship between Decker and Tracy develops, we find out much more about Decker. When Tracy nags him enough, Decker finally admits that he never loved Sophia. Despite this fact, the sexual interaction with Sophia kind of sort of rocked his world. He admits to Sophia later in the book that the sex was memorable for him. This, I think, is from where his hang up with Sophia stems. Tat, of course, and his guilt. It was the violence of the act that held Decker in its thrall. Decker’s interest in being dominated (which he may not have totally understood at the time of his thing with Sophia) explains why he allowed it to actually take place. This is a question that I have had – especially since learning that Decker and Sophia did not end up together.
So, Brockmann was able to turn the entire Sophia/Decker event around for me. No longer does the blow job seem to signal the start of an emotional bond between the two, but becomes an unfortunate incident that scarred Decker. This becomes something that he needs to resolve, and now, is much less of an issue for Sophia. Ok, so having said all of that, why can’t I be happy with Dave and Sophia as a couple and Decker and Tracy as a couple?
Going back through the Decker/Sophia/Dave history, starting in Flashpoint and continuing through successive Troubleshooter books, I believe that the pairings in DoN would have been stronger without making everyone (I’m talking characters here, not readers – although that could apply as well) believing that Decker and Sophia loved each other. Sophia had lived through a nightmare. She had an awkward first meeting with her eventual coworkers. She didn’t need to think she had feelings for Decker or make us believe that she was in love with him for her not to have been ready to get involved with someone else (like Dave). It would also have been better (for me) to have some inkling of Decker’s true turmoil. Why did we need to think that he loved Sophia, but was too guilt ridden to have a relationship with her? Why did those around him need to believe this? I can’t believe that Decker would simply allow everyone to believe he loved Sophia. No way!
I think that removing the whole Sophia-and-Decker-love-each-other angle would have made me believe wholeheartedly in Dave and Sophia. I still can’t get there. I like Dave’s character very much and I have since his arrival on the scene, but can’t see a HEA for him and Sophia. While being held by the bad guys (which happens in the prologue, but towards the end of the book’s timeline), Dave can’t help but think about Decker and Sophia:
Dave knew that Sophia was – at that very moment – in the company of Lawrence Decker. Deck – who loved her almost as much as Dave did . . (p.13.).
. . . Dave knew with faith as solid as a stone that Decker would keep Sophia safe from harm (p.14).
Additionally, Dave writes Decker a letter in case of his death. In the letter, he asks Decker to open up, accept and love Sophia. All along, Dave believes that Decker and Sophia truly loved each other and that Sophia turned to Dave only when Decker made it appear as if he had taken up with Tess Bailey. This can’t help but cast doubt for me on the stability of the Dave/Sophia HEA.
It seemed as if everyone bought into the Decker-and-Sophia-loved-each-other angle as well. Even Nash and Tess, Decker’s best friends (and people to whom he was probably closest) believe that Decker loved Sophia. When driving to the airport to pick up Dave and Sophia, Tess acknowledges how awkward things may bet when Dave, Sophia and Decker are together. Tess believes that when she and Decker made the effort to make everyone believe that they were a couple shortly after Nash’s death, Decker was sacrificing his chances with Sophia to help Nash (p.163). Seriously, I know I’ve said it before, but I can’t believe that Decker would allow everyone to believe this.
My other issue with the Dave/Sophia pairing stems from Sophia herself. It seems pretty clear that Sophia’s initial decision to start a relationship with Dave stems from her need for a safe person who isn’t surrounded by violence in his life rather than being heartbroken by the illusion that Decker and Tess were an item. She was used to geeky, nerd-type Dave who was devoted to her; the Dave with whom she had been having lunch; the Dave with whom she become best friends. She, in turn, didn’t have to worry about him running off to save the world with guns blazing or worry about him breaking her heart. At one point in the story, Brockmann writes that
She’d gotten into this relationship with Dave, thinking that she was settling for someone nice enough. Someone who loved her and would never hurt her. Someone who would be a good husband and loving father to her children as they sailed through life on an easy, even keel (p. 182).
In order to truly believe this, Sophia had to being deluding herself to some extent. Sophia and Dave had been best friends for years. They worked for an organization that was often involved in violence. Dave had worked for the CIA. He was in Kazbekistan when she was rescued. Yet, she didn’t really know Dave at all? Dave deserves better than this. He seems to accept everything about Sophia because he loves her so much. Dave should have had a HEA with someone who didn’t see him as the easy choice.
All of this leads me to question whether or not Sophia ever loved Decker or not. I’m definitely leaning towards the belief that she didn’t love him, but kind of needed some connection to him – even an imagined one. I tend to think this because of the conversation that finally takes place between Decker and Sophia towards the very end of the book. While they definitely needed to clear the air, I found the conversation to be rather anti-climactic. Both characters seemed ok with their relationship. There was a little awkwardness, but I think that stemmed from Decker’s issue rather than from any lingering feelings. Decker needed the closure much more than Sophia, and Sophia played it perfectly – somewhat forcing Decker to deal with the situation. I’m left thinking that Sophia needed to believe she had feelings for Decker. They gave her an excuse to stay a bit removed and to give her to time to deal with her own issues.
Read first January 27, 2009