Monday, January 2, 2017

Death in the Shadows by Paul McCusker

This is the second novel in the Father Gilbert series. As with the first in the series, the novel got off to a slow start. A little past halfway through, however, and I was hooked.

Father Gilbert is in Englesea to attend a church conference. The body of a young woman, probably of Chinese descent, had been found in a dumpster. Gilbert recognizes the detective on the case as one he knew when he worked at Scotland Yard. He decides to get in touch and before long is deeply involved in an investigation revolving around murder and human trafficking.

McCuscker has done a good job creating a British mystery. The plot is methodical as Gilbert uncovers layers of deception in between participating in panel discussions at the conference. There is not much suspense but I liked the twists in the plot.

Father Gilbert is an unusual character in that he sees apparitions. Some Christian readers may not like this idea, not believing in “ghosts.” There is much more to these apparitions, however. Gilbert had once given a homily “about how our spiritual sensitivities were like antennae: the Holy Spirit giving us the equipment to lock into God's signal so we could be completely tuned to Him.” (145) But Gilbert had never expected to receive signals from the dead. I liken the apparitions to the event in Genesis where God says Abel's blood cries out from the ground (Gen. 4:10). I looked at the apparitions as murdered people crying out for justice.

The heart wrenching theme that runs through this novel is human trafficking. We learn quite a bit about how young women are taken and forced into the sex trade. Threats about family members or other means are used to keep them there. This was disturbing reading. I want to not believe it exists but the author has added a list of several organizations working to stop such evil practices.

The novel got off to a slow start for me. It wasn't until a little over half way through that the intensity of the plot line grabbed me. I am glad I stuck with it. Besides being a good mystery, this novel gave me much to think about with respect to human trafficking and what is being done about it. I'll be looking for the next in the series, expecting another thought provoking mystery.

You can read my review of the first book in this series, The Body Under the Bridge, here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Paul McCusker is an award winning novelist and dramatist and creative director at Focus on the Family. He has written for Adventures in Odyssey and helped create Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. He lives on Colorado. You can find out more at http://www.paulmccusker.com/.

Lion Fiction (distributed in the U.S. by Kregel), 320 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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