Land Of Shadows – Rachel Howzell Hall

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Along the ever-changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, a seventeen-year-old girl is found dead at a construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished condominium.

Homicide Detective Elouise Norton and her new partner Colin Taggert, fresh from the Colorado Springs police department, are assigned to investigate. He assumes it’s a teenage suicide, but Norton isn’t buying the easy explanation. For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self-made millionaire, and the man Norton believes responsible for her sisters disappearance 30 years before.

As Norton investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases, but as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. The race is on to bring him to justice, or become his next victim….

If you’re planning on reading Land of Shadows any time soon, I recommend you clear your schedules before you do. It’s the most addictive book I’ve read this year, and I’m already viewing it as a likely contender for my best books of the year, it’s simply that good.

Elouise Norton is a brilliantly written character that you can’t help but like immediately. Tough and feisty, a hard-working woman who has come from a poor background to be the successful cop she is today. Sensitive and vulnerable, worried about her husbands fidelity and the state of her marriage. Still troubled by the unresolved disappearance of her sister, and with a blind determination to bring to justice the man she believes to be responsible for it.

One of my favourite touches to the tale comes as the story moves back and forth, between the present day and the day her sister disappeared, demonstrating the contrasting fortunes of the teenagers she knew then with the adults they have become.  The characters were so believable it felt a genuine reflection on the way life in poorer communities works, and how people change their fortunes or re-live their mistakes.  I found it provided an excellent background to the whole story.

As for the plot, it twists and turns with ease, ensuring that if you’re the sort of person who wants to guess ‘whodunnit’ first you will be spinning round in circles trying to get there. 

Land of Shadows is, for me, an amazing novel, and Detective Elouise Norton is a character I certainly see a great future for, a future I can’t wait to read all about.

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