Taylor Martin’s mother has begged her to return home to Logan Point, Mississippi many times, but the painful memories of her father’s disappearance prevents Taylor from returning to her home town. She’s settled into her life as a professor of Psychology at a university in Washington, and her criminal profiling work has given her the opportunity to work alongside the police on several cases. In spite of her success in her career, she feels dissatisfied with her inability to figure out what happened to her own father, whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years. Did he really walk out on her family of his own accord, or is the mystery deeper than she was lead to believe?
Despite wanting to delve deeper into her father’s disappearance, Taylor’s work is interrupted by popular crime writer, Nick Sinclair, who is on the hunt for his own missing relative. His younger step-brother, Scott, has been out of his life for several years, but was reportedly taking Taylor’s criminal profiling case for a while. Taylor is familiar with Scott—in fact, she’s convinced he’s been stalking her since he dropped her class, and the creepy notes she’s found recently are making her wonder if this is more than a simple case of a teenage boy with a crush. Nick is convinced that his brother would never do anything to harm anyone, particularly his favourite professor, and is keen to work with Taylor to figure out who is following her, and clean his brother’s name.
Little do they know that the mystery they’re beginning to uncover is far greater than any Nick could have penned, and that they’re about to crack open a case that someone doesn’t want investigated.
I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense novels, but the synopsis for Shadows of the Past first caught my attention when I saw it in the publisher’s catalogue last year.
A crime writer and a criminal profiler (who often works in association with a police department) working together on case—doesn’t that just scream Castle to you?
And I’m not complaining, because I love Castle! My husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the first four seasons together, particularly as I tend to be more in tune with Castle, with my more artistic brain, while my husband is more scientific, like Beckett. The show has a fantastic dynamic, and I knew it was only a matter of time before someone used it as inspiration for a novel.
That’s not to say that Shadows of the Past is merely a copy-cat for Castle. The similarities are pretty minor, and Nick’s writing doesn’t play a huge part in the story. I didn’t mind this as the details about Taylor’s family history and her criminal profiling were fascinating, and are sure to intrigue any reader who isn’t already an expert on criminology. Once Taylor returns to Logan Point, she spends some time meeting up with a detective friend at the local police department and working with her on both her father’s case and a more recent incident. I enjoyed these sections of the novel, and I’m hoping that Livy, the detective, will get a novel of her own in the future. She definitely piqued my interest, as did a few other characters scattered around Logan Point.
One of my only, minor complaints about this novel is that a great deal of secondary characters are introduced at the start of the novel—both in Washington, and then in Logan Point. It took a while for me to figure out who everyone was in relation to Taylor. Thankfully, no one came across as flat, in spite of the great number of characters, but it did make my head spin for a while.
I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about Logan Point, but it can take a while to get to grips with all the characters in Shadows of the Past.
I’m a little hesitant to bill this as a romantic suspense, since the romance takes a while to really get going—Taylor and Nick have a lot of animosity between them initially—and even then, it takes the back-seat a fair few times to the suspense. If you’re not a big fan of romance, don’t let that stop you from reading this book. The mystery of Taylor’s father’s disappearance and her stalker definitely captured my attention a lot more than the romance between her and Nick, and I’m a dedicated romance reader. While I was definitely pleased with the outcome to Taylor and Nick’s romance, this part of the story didn’t particularly grip me or make me worry that they wouldn’t get together.
The mystery is what I loved most about this book, and what pushes my rating so high. Taylor’s investigation into her father’s disappearance is interwoven with her desire to uncover the identity of her stalker—and in turn, help Nick to find his brother—and in spite of all these different threads, the story never feels confusing. At a later point in the novel, yet another thread is woven in, binding the story even tighter together. I had my suspicions about one character halfway through the story, but I wasn’t certain if he really was behind it all or not. Another one, I was convinced was a red herring, and I turned out to be wrong! In spite of the many Nancy Drew novels I devoured as a preteen, even I couldn’t complete figure out who was behind everything. As fun as it is to solve the mystery before the protagonist, it’s even more enjoyable when the author keeps you on your toes and has you second-guessing your suspicions.
If Patricia Bradley’s writing is this sharp with her debut, I can’t wait to read her next mystery.
Shadows of the Past is sure to please and intrigue many a mystery fan, and I hope her writing gets the attention it deserves.