Nora Roberts

High Noon

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High Noon Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature  detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of High Noon by Nora Roberts.

Bestselling author Nora Roberts published her combination romance and thriller novel High Noon in 2007. The plot follows the adventures of a police detective whose life is complicated by an unexpected love affair with a supportive millionaire and by a series of life-threatening situations when an unhinged murderer decides to target her for imagined past wrongs.

When she was twelve years old, Phoebe MacNamara was a victim of a home invasion at the hands of a mentally unstable man who held her family hostage for hours before they were rescued by a hostage negotiator. Even now, the repercussions of that day ripple through her life. Phoebe has used the memory to become a police lieutenant and Savannah, Georgia’s top hostage negotiator. However, her mother, Essie, has become an agoraphobic, and her brother, Carter, still has PTSD-like flashbacks to the event. Essie’s evil sister, Bess, never got over having to house the family after the incident, and in her will irrevocably tied Phoebe to the beautiful McNamara House mansion – neither she nor her entire extended family can leave. Not only is her family dependent on her, but Phoebe is also completely responsible for Carly, her seven-year-old daughter, whose deadbeat father isn’t a reliable presence in her life.

One day, Phoebe is called to the scene of a man threatening to throw himself off the roof a building. Bartender Joe Ryder, whose wife has just left him, is now sitting on a ledge in his boxers, holding a gun to his head. Watching Phoebe ably talk Joe down, the man who owns the building where Joe was perched is intrigued by this competent woman. Duncan Swift, the landlord, used to work for a living until he won $138 million in the lottery. Now he stays busy starting businesses and renovating property; he also helps people who need it along the way. He asks Phoebe out for a drink. As their relationship grows and deepens, Phoebe at first tries her best to hold Duncan at arm’s length. Nevertheless, he isn’t thrown either by the house full of women where she lives or by the demands of her high-stakes job. Instead, he is there for her when she needs it, and knows to back off when she needs space. He is as handsome as she is beautiful, and soon they are sleeping together.

Meanwhile, in Phoebe’s police department, a third-generation cop, Artie Meeks, whose misogynistic attitude makes him hate taking orders from Phoebe, screws up a hostage situation because he does the opposite of what Phoebe tells him to do. Suspended for the mistake, he blames Phoebe and viciously attacks her one day in the precinct house stairwell. Shockingly, although he does end up losing his job, his father’s connections keep him out of prison.

Just when Phoebe thinks she is safe, however, oddly menacing things start to happen. Someone leaves dead animals on her doorstep, sadistic messages on her voice mail, and a strange man keeps popping up places where she happens to be. The situation escalates when someone snipes a hostage taker after Phoebe has already diffused the situation peacefully. At first, Phoebe suspects Artie Meeks and turns to Duncan for solace, which he is more than happy to provide.

However, when the situation takes a deadly turn, and Phoebe’s deadbeat ex-husband is tied up and then blown to pieces with a bomb strapped to his chest, she realizes that someone else is behind all of this. The killer is a man named Jerry, a former SWAT team cop whose fiancée was accidentally killed in a hostage situation Phoebe handled. Blaming Phoebe for the woman’s death, Jerry has decided to exact vengeance.

Duncan befriends Carly by teaching her math, and the little girl grows close to the new man in her mom’s life. Duncan decides to ask Phoebe to marry him and goes ring shopping, wondering whether he should also get a small ring for Carly as a symbol of the bond he is asking them to share. Jerry, deciding that fiancé for fiancée is fair trade takes Duncan, his mother, and his sister hostage in the jewelry store, which is called High Noon – where the novel gets its name. Phoebe realizes that this is one hostage situation she won’t be able to peacefully resolve. Instead, she has to convince the killer to move away from the hostages so the police sharpshooters have a clear target. She successfully draws him into position, and then gives the order – the sniper kills Jerry. The book ends just after this happens, with the knowledge that Phoebe and Duncan will soon be married.