Cry No More, by Linda Howard

>> Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Cry No More, by Linda Howard seemed like it could be one harrowing read, but I apparently have a compulsion to read anything by Linda Howard (though so far I've avoided reading her most infamous titles, like All That Glitters, An Independent Wife or Sarah's Child, LOL!), plus, this is a book that evokes such strong feelings that I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Count your blessings; they can be snatched away in an instant. It is a sentiment Milla Edge knows too well. With an astonishing blend of savvy, instinct, and passion, Milla displays an uncanny gift for finding lost children. When all seems helpless, desperate souls from across the country come to her for hope and results. Driven by an obsessive desire to fill the void in other people’s lives, Milla throws herself into every case–all the while trying to outrun the brutal emotions stemming from a horrific tragedy in her past.

Traveling to a small village in Mexico on a reliable tip, Milla begins to uncover the dire fate of countless children who have disappeared over the years in the labyrinth of a sinister baby-smuggling ring. The key to nailing down the organization may rest with an elusive one-eyed man. To find him, Milla joins forces with James Diaz, a suspicious stranger known as the Tracker who conceals his own sinister agenda.

As the search intensifies, the mission becomes more treacherous. For the ring is part of something far larger and more dangerous, reaching the highest echelons of power and influence. Caught between growing passion and imminent peril, Milla suddenly finds herself the hunted–in the crosshairs
of an invisible, lethal assassin who aims to silence her permanently.
Well, my first reaction is: no wonder it provokes such strong reactions, this is one emotionally powerful book! It's also one I enjoyed very much, one of Howard's best, if not THE best. My grade for it is an A.

I know many people have a problem with the subject matter of the book, a mother whose child was stolen away from her and who's spent all those years just looking for him. In fact, when I recommended it to my romance-reading friend, who has two small children, and offered to lend it to her, she said she didn't think she could deal with it for now. As for me, I was able to read it all right. I was affected by all of it, very much (I DON'T cry with books, but I did with this one), but I don't have children and don't plan to have any, so I guess it just didn't touch so close to home with me. I can intellectually understand the horror of it and identify with Milla's feelings, but only to a certain extent. I suppose I can't really imagine deep inside what it must be like, to experience such a loss.

Another potentially disturbing issue is the vigilantism in the book, both Diaz's job and something Milla does. I have a huge problem with vigilantism in real life and with the way it's so often glorified in romance novels, which is why I was actually disturbed by how NOT disturbing I found this book in that way, how I was actually cheering Milla in my mind to do... what she did (don't want to spoil things for anything).

Maybe it was the fact that the situations here were so clear-cut, so black and white, but I don't know, I can't get rid of the feeling that it should have bothered me more than it did, especially because what Diaz did wasn't simply him going after the bad guys in a personal crusade. He was state-sponsored. Unofficially, yes, but state-sponsored all the same, and I'm a firm believer in that if a state begins to break its own laws in order to go after lawbreakers, it lowers itself to their level and becomes unworthy of being defended against them. Those checks and balances were designed to protect the innocent, and what if one of these black and white cases is not as black and white as it seems to be? I believe that punishing one innocent person is much worse than letting a bunch of guilty people go loose, and that is why vigilantism offends me so much. And I realize I've gone way off-topic :-) Back to the book, let's just say that I was surprised by the fact that it didn't bother me, and move on.

On to the romance. Cry No More had such a strong plot that one would think the romance would have been eclipsed by it. Not so. I thought the romance was just magnificent, as were the protagonists. I loved Diaz. He's very different from the usual Howard hero. In fact, he's different from most heroes and actually, from most people I know, but feels real all the same. He's calm, apart from the world, detatched, but he's a man who's spent his life trying to right wrongs in the world, even if he doesn't see it that way himself.

I liked the way he subtly changed when he was with Milla. He wasn't exactly "normal" when he was with her, he was still the same person, but to a certain extent, he opened up with her. I loved that he'd been so discriminating in his sex life, it really made sense for the person he was. I found that so much more attractive than the usual Linda Howard oversexed heroes.

Milla was also an amazing character and an admirable one. What I liked best about her characterization was that she wasn't a one-note robot, for all that she'd made finding Justin the focus of her life. This wasn't the extent of who she was. It wasn't that her entire personality had been taken up by a machine focused on her mission, more like this mission had changed her and her personality had had to adapt, but it was still distinct.

I know someone complained in one of the AAR boards about a line in the book "I'd give my left nut to be inside you right now" (I'm quoting from memory, so excuse me if it's not exact), but it, and the whole relationship between Milla and Diaz, hit me just right and made me melt. I loved Diaz's gentle protectiveness even though he was aware of the fact that Milla was tough and respected her for it. I loved how they so immediately got to know each other intimately, how Diaz was able to open himself up with Milla more than he had been able to do so ever before.

I thought Howard wrote the suspense subplot very well. There was no much mystery as to who the villains were, and they were really disgusting people, something that came across especially clearly because we see them behaving like very nice people in other areas of their lives, and they're behaving that way because they do care about certain other people. It's especially chilling to contrast this to their criminal activities.

I especially liked the lack of a big, climactic final confrontation, though I know this won't be to many people's taste. The final "defeat" of the baby-stealing ring takes place off-scene, done by the police, the same thing Howard did in Open Season, and I liked it very much there, too.

I liked that the book didn't stop right after the climax, once Milla finally finds the answers to the question of what happened to her child. The story kept going and took us through the repercussions of it all, and this part was really excellent, both when it dealt with Milla's actions in regards to her son and when it dealt with the romance. And I'm not usually fond of those "10 years later" epilogues, showing our protagonists happily domesticated and surrounded by a brood of kids, but in this case, I ate it up. I actually loved seeing Diaz dealing with a family, because he was very much the same person he'd been in the rest of the book.

The only negative thing about Cry No More was that I went into a funk when I finished it. It had been such a great read, that I didn't feel like reading anything, especially not romance. I spent the rest of the day (a Sunday, when I usually spend the entire afternoon reading) surfing the net, doing other stuff and generally obsessing about Milla and Diaz, and the feeling was only slightly lifted by Monday morning. I was able to read something then, but not romance, something completely different, Memoria de Mis Putas Tristes, Gabriel García Márquez's latest (beautiful writing, as always, but so-so, mostly insubstantial story). I'm all better now, though ;-)

If you think you could deal with the plot, this is one book that shouldn't be missed.


Bona Caballero 11 February 2015 at 15:15  

It's not my favourite Linda Howard's book but it was very good, very emotional. I did connect with it although I have to recognize that it's a little bit hard if you're a mother. At the end, OMG, how did I cry.

Rosario 12 February 2015 at 06:39  

Emotional is right, I remember there was actual sobbing when I read it!

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