Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Shadows Still Remain

Shadows Still Remain
by Peter de Jonge
Recommended Ages: 14+

When a beautiful NYU student is first reported missing, then found murdered over Thanksgiving weekend, New York Police Detective Darlene O'Hara recognizes it as the case that could make her career. But she's just a lowly detective in the Seventh Precinct, not yet a Detective First Grade with the homicide squad, who take over the case while she's still working on it. So while the homicide guys follow one theory – their suspect a boyfriend whose resemblance to Darleen's college student son tugs at her heartstrings – she chases down leads they don't consider important enough to waste time on. After a certain point in her investigation, she starts to get in trouble with the brass just for following her own leads when it's no longer her case. She increasingly has to hide out, adopt disguises and skive off from work to follow a trail of clues that involve sexual exploitation, academic fraud and at least one more death.

O'Hara, aided and abetted by her detective partner Krekorian, runs an outlaw investigation that, if she's right, could show up those homicide guys. But she's digging into things people don't want her to find out. Even when it seems she's solved the case, she continues to turn over stones concealing even nastier buried things until you wonder when the breathtaking twists are going to end. Ultimately, O'Hara heeds the voice of a police friend in an internal dialogue (in her mind only), telling her that if she doesn't stop somewhere, the chain of cause-and-effect could lead all the way back to the trees from which the first hairless apes descended.

As I mentioned, this is a mystery that packs a lot of twists into relatively few pages. The large-print edition I read (because that was what the library had on offer) wasn't all that thick, and I guess the regular-size paperback would be quite a bit smaller. In spite of that, the mystery provides an ample field of activity for the main act, which is the character of Darlene. A high school dropout with a smart mind and an even smarter attitude, she drinks too much, thinks about her kid a lot, lusts after a nerdy medical examiner, picks and chooses the rules she'll follow, holds her immediate supervisor in contempt and identifies passionately with the victims of the crimes she detects – even when their identity comes into question. She has a warm, funny, down-to-earth voice and feels like good company, though her judgment isn't always the best. I've already read her second adventure, Buried on Avenue B, but I'm looking forward to more.

Peter de Jonge is also a member of James Patterson's coterie of co-authors, with about five books to their shared credit including Miracle on the 17th Green and The Beach House.

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