Detective Elouise Norton has been filled with guilt and grief over what happened to her sister 25 years ago. That tragedy is the core of her being and powers her work as a detective for the LAPD in Land Of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall.
It is a Wednesday night in June when LAPD Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton of the Southwest Division is called away from her Krav Maga class. A class that might help save her life one day is interrupted about a possible suicide discovered in some newly constructed condos. The old neighborhood is changing and gentrifying with new money flowing in sweeping out what was there. New condos are being built near where Detective Norton grew up as a kid. In a somewhat strange coincidence the condo property under development is owned by one Napoleon Crase. The same Napoleon Crase who, as owner of the local convenience store, was one of the last people to see her sister alive all those years ago.
The same Napoleon Crase who Detective Norton has believed all these years was responsible for her sister’s disappearance. As time permitted she has investigated him since joining the LAPD and she remains unable to prove his involvement or bring her sister home as she promised her mom long ago.
As she investigates she slowly realizes that there are links between what probably happened to her sister and the clear and obvious murder of today. The unidentified victim initially reported as a “Jane Doe” suicide was clearly not a suicide. The person or persons who staged the scene intended to mislead investigators, but Detective Norton is sure it was a murder. Norton firmly believes that back in the day of the mid-eighties nobody in the LAPD cared if an African-American girl vanished or was murdered. In the here and now of twenty-five years later, Norton does and intends to solve the current case as well as the someday bring her sister home.
While Land of Shadows hits the classic-- loved one vanishes and surviving family member becomes a cop to find justice -- trope as well as couple of other ones, author Rachel Howzell Hall puts a fresh spin on them and creates an intense and compelling read. A touch of sarcasm, often bitter, fuels the Norton character with the result of the occasional sarcastic comment that often made this reader snicker out loud. The mysteries at work in the book-- past and present-- are complex and multilayered as are all the characters themselves. The protagonist as well as minor and major characters are multilayered and nuanced and every single one of them has stories to tell.
Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall is a very good read and one that is well worth your time. I was totally unaware of this book or the series until I recently read reviews by Jim Thomson and David Nemeth over on the Unlawful Acts website. All too often, we hear some folks claiming reviews don’t matter. Reviews of depth and meaning do matter and serve to help us all find books that appeal. Because of those reviews, I have a new series to work my way through and very much look forward to doing so book by book.
Land Of Shadows
Rachel Howzell Hall
Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
Hardback (also available in paperback and digital formats)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2018