A writer of one sort or another trying to solve a mystery he has suddenly found himself in the middle of is a conventional plot for books. (The Screaming Mimi comes to mind.) Author Allen Caraway undoubtedly knows this, but forges ahead anyway, leaving thankful readers waiting to see what happens next, though fairly unsure of what they will encounter. What starts out like a ghost story ends up being a murder mystery that is as touching as it is surprising. There are a few bumps along the way (chiefly being the supernatural element that dominated the beginning of the story and was soon forgotten), but that is fairly forgivable given the strong characters and unseen twists that are thrown at readers.
If anything, I would have liked to have spent more time with Caraway’s characters. That said, it’s a weak complaint because the story wastes little to no time in getting to its destination, and that’s not something you can easily say these days. Improbable? Yes. Entertaining? Yes. Intellectually stimulating? No. Not everything has to be, though. There is, however, another problem that needs mentioning: the book’s title.
I originally read this book under the title Drowning in Shadow. Its current moniker evokes a Hammer film and acts as a spoiler. Readers expecting Gothic horror are going to be in for a bit of a surprise, though the beginning of the story will solidify those expectations for a while before crushing them callously. The original title was better, and I cannot emphasize that enough.
Minor distractions aside, if murder mysteries are your thing -- especially those with a hint of the otherworldly -- then you may want to give this novel a chance. It won’t change your world, but it is a welcome, simplistic read while waiting for tires to be put on your car, or for when you are enjoying a glass of wine and Ayn Rand seems a bit too heavy.
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