Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review: The Shadowed Mind

When I found out I had the chance to review The Shadowed Mind by Julie Cave and I read the description by the publisher, I decided I really ought to read the first book in the series, Deadly Disclosures, first. I think it was the right decision. While The Shadowed Mind could stand on its own, understanding the back-story does add a lot to it.

This middle book in the Dinah Harris Mystery trilogy has Dinah as a recovering alcoholic and a former FBI agent, now in the process of reconstructing her career and piecing her life back together. There is a serial killer they are chasing who seems to have a pretty clear pro-eugenics message that he wishes to get out there.  He's killing off a representative of every undesirable class, starting with a drug-abusing street kid.  A sub-plot involves a woman struggling with the day-to-day realities of caring for her father as he succumbs to the effects of Alzheimer's Disease.

There are a number of things I really enjoyed about this book.
  • Dinah Harris is described as fairly normal looking. Wow, is that ever refreshing. I get so tired of every heroine being drop-dead gorgeous. This book doesn't focus on what she looks like really at all.
  • Dinah is flawed. Sarcastic, prone to outbursts, an aggressive driver. And an alcoholic too.
  • To sum up the above two points, the main character just feels real. She says stupid things, makes dumb mistakes, and has people rolling their eyes at her. But she is good at what she does, and she gets an awful lot right too. I found Dinah really easy to relate to.
  • The book is more than just a mystery -- Dinah and her partner trace through the history of eugenics in the course of their investigation, hearing or reading about it from a number of different points of view.
  • And while I don't know a lot about Washington, D.C., martial arts, or many of the other issues that come up in the story, the information presented certainly seems to be well-researched and presented accurately.
  • The mystery kept me guessing. There were multiple times where I thought, "Whoa, I didn't see that coming!"
There are a couple of negatives too. Mostly, I think the message about eugenics could come across with a bit less preaching. But maybe that was just my impression as I already know quite a bit about the subject.  The pacing, though, suffered a bit with these sections.  Overall, this is a fast-moving, suspenseful book, but the eugenics lectures seemed to drag at least some of the time.

This second book was definitely better written than the first, so I am really looking forward to book #3 which is supposed to be coming in June.

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review. 


Catherine said...

I was just saying I need to read more fiction. This sounds like something I would enjoy, especially since I kow I could skim the eugenics part. (I know a lot about that already, too - but I guess some people don't) Thanks for the review.

Deanna said...

I was so glad to read your review on this second book. I read the first book and I too thought it was a little too preachy. I felt they tried so hard to get their message across and while I truly appreciated it I thought it hurt the quality of the book. I was hoping she would relax a little in her second book and just write because she obviously had talent.