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Wells, Shirley - Into The Shadows
Hardback: 256 pages (May 2007) Publisher: Constable ISBN: 1845295277

INTO THE SHADOWS is not the author's first book but it is the first under the name, Shirley Wells and I'm pleased to see that a follow-up, A DARKER SIDE, will be out in May.

INTO THE SHADOWS introduces series characters, forensic psychologist Jill Kennedy and DCI Max Trentham and the setting is the Lancashire Pennines. Jill and Max were personally and professionally linked but circumstances drove them apart; Max had a one night stand which their relationship couldn't recover from and Jill left her work with the police when an innocent man arrested based on her profile of the elusive 'Valentine' killer, committed suicide. Jill is now living alone, writing a self-help book in the small village of Kelton Bridge. Valentine is still at large but Max has been taken off the case.

Not long after her move to Kelton Bridge, Jill receives a hand delivered newspaper clipping of herself and finds the situation unnerving. Is Valentine playing games with her or is someone winding her up? Then a shocking murder occurs in the small village where every one knows everything about each other. The well liked wife of the vicar is found naked with her throat cut and her son Michael is found cradling the body. Max and his team can't get Michael to talk and Jill befriends the lad hoping he will open up to her. Then another murder rocks the village and meanwhile, further afield, Valentine strikes again. Jill is persuaded to resume her work on the Valentine case, working for the dislikeable Don Cornwell unaware that Valentine is waiting for the right day to make her his next victim.

INTO THE SHADOWS combines a village mystery with a serial killer thriller and it works successfully. The village whodunit is quite puzzling and satisfactorily resolved and there are plenty of suspects for the identity of Valentine: Andy the handsome estate agent, Bob the builder, Len the labourer, Tony the teacher and even Don the detective fall under suspicion and the reader is led one way then another without being cheated.

The main characters Jill and Max are likeable and well drawn and the author has resisted the temptation to push them back together by the end of the first book. There is a slight air of familiarity about the idea of the serial killer going after the (female) profiler but I was still gripped by the suspense of finding out who the killer was. Yorkshire seems to be overrun with fictional towns and police officers so it's nice to come across a series set in Lancashire. I enjoyed INTO THE SHADOWS very much and look forward to the sequel, later this year.

Read another review of INTO THE SHADOWS.

Karen Meek, England
February 2008

Karen blogs at Euro Crime.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 11/05/2008 11:38