I am not exactly a connoisseur of mystery novels, at least not mysteries that don’t have a bit of supernatural element to them. That being said, once I was able to get into this read I could not put it down.
When Jan Kepler is found dead in her beloved birding woods, Officer Flora Vestine and detective Sticks Hetrick have their work cut out for them. Solving any homicide can be tricky. That’s especially true when your victim is a law-abiding citizen, keeps completely to herself, and whose only hobby is birding. Even while they were in school together, Flora can’t recall Jan having a single friend. Even now, as a teacher in that same school, Jan’s peers and students liked her well-enough, but only had one friend—the formidable town spinster. Throw in a sudden–and seemingly random–string of car thefts and the unlawful timbering, and it’s a tangled web of bad leads and dead ends.
A great mystery is chock full of personality and intrigue, and Lindermuth does not fail to deliver. He manages to breathe life into the community of Swatara Creek, complete with eccentricities, heart-wrenching personal struggles, and flavors from every walk of life. His rich, authentic dialogue makes the characters pop out of the page and his descriptions of the township suck you right into their world with ease.
There are many theories to choose from as you journey to find Jan’s killer, and it keeps you guessing ’til the very end.
Now the cons:
There are couple moments of jarring tense shift, and sometimes it is difficult to remember what name belongs to what character as there are so many involved (not a bad thing, exactly. I like a variety of characters.) The surnames are somewhat unusual from your typical “Smith, Williams, etc.” which I think has a little to do with the getting mixed up easily. Or that might just be me, ha!
If you love a good little mystery to cozy up to, I would definitely put the works of J.R. Lindermuth on your reading list!
I received a copy of Shades of Darkness in exchange for an honest review.