Monday, February 3, 2014

Patricia Bradley's "Shadows of the Past" - a masterfully plotted mystery

In her debut novel Patricia Bradley writes a mystery-suspense about a psychology professor who also works as a victim/criminal profiler.  Taylor Martin has been digging into the past trying to find out why her father left when she was a child, but a stalker keeps distracting her from her work.  Taylor is pretty sure it is one of her students, Scott Sinclair, but his brother Nick, a novelist, keeps butting heads with her to convince her of his innocence.  While Taylor and Nick try to track down the elusive Scott, danger also keeps following Taylor in her search for her father. 
Shadows of the Past
I liked the author's style of the plot - it reminded me of a big spiral, events loosely connected circling tighter and tighter until they all narrow into a point.  Many different investigations going on, many mysteries at home and at work, but there is a thread that connects them all.  The mystery was very well written - I kept thinking,  ooh, it's this guy - no, it's this guy, - wait, it must be - but it can't be all of them!  Did I figure it out before the very end?  Not really, though I at least placed my suspicions where they belonged!  (Well, along with on some apparently innocent parties . . . )  I did really like how it all came together and who the villain turned out to be.

I thought that Taylor's responses to Nick's overtures were well written, especially in light of her history.  Her dad abandoned her as a child and her fiance left her for another woman, so she understandably has a lot of issues regarding men - both in terms of self-image and trusting men with her heart.  Sometimes it seemed like the relationship was moving a little fast, especially since Nick still feels guilt over his wife's death, but I like where they are at when the book ends. 

While I never root for the villain, I do appreciate a good villain, so I was a little disappointed (as I often am) regarding said person's intelligence in this story.  So often the villain wastes time confessing crimes, proving over and over that a gloating villain is an unsuccessful villain; a smart villain would do the job quickly with minimal interaction and then skip town/go back to daily life, but the moment a speech pours out, the person is done for.  It fit a little better in this story than in others, at least, since Taylor is a psychologist and knows which buttons to push to stall for time; however, I am always a little disappointed when the villain falls for the attempt to stall and Tells All.  Taylor is excellent at her job - I bet she could have figured out the reasons why without a confession. 

Both the suspense and mystery aspects of the book were written well; it can be hard to achieve both in the same book, but Bradley does an excellent job.  I look forward to reading the next in the series!  4.5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you Revell for a free copy for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.

Logan Point
1. Shadows of the Past
2. A Promise to Protect
3. Gone without a Trace 
4. Silence in the Dark 

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