Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shadow of Death by Patricia Gussin

I had been warned about accepting free Kindle books but I got several from a publishing company, and I read, enjoyed, and reviewed the first one of those, Dead Air. So I wasn't concerned when I decided, as a break from the long, small print biography I'm reading, that I would try the second one. Too bad, this one warrants the warning.

This one was almost a DNF. From the very beginning I was aggravated with the heroine. Laura Nelson is a med student, wife, and mother of two little boys. She is the star student of her class, so she is apparently a very smart young woman. However, this character is completely lacking in common sense and that gets her into more trouble than you can imagine. Plus, I expect a character, particularly the main character, to learn something, maybe even grow as a person through the experiences in the story. This one is practically the same at the end of the book as she was at the beginning.

The story is set in Detroit in the 1960s right after the major riots there. Laura's med school and hospital are in a dangerous part of the city. She leaves the hospital upset about a patient and his family, and should go through the buildings to leave by the door where security guards are posted to escort students to their vehicles. Instead, she stupidly walks around the buildings toward the student parking lot. Of course, you know what happens. She is violently assaulted by a young man with a knife who rapes her. She pulls a gun (an illegal one!) from her bag and kills him. Does she tell the police, her husband, anyone? No.

I was so irritated with her from that time on that I just couldn't drum up any sympathy for her. Add to that the countless coincidences in the book and you have a reader who won't be looking for any other books by this author. It's a shame really, since I do believe the author could have written a good book with a more believeable premise.

I did finish the book and there were a couple characters I did care about, but it was a close call. I do not recommend this book, free or otherwise. I'm happy to get back to my biography, a really good read.


  1. I understand your inability to like the book. The main character has to be likable. The setting has to be realistic too. In the 60s there were very few female med students and even fewer with two children. They had to be brilliant, including common sense, to get in and survive in that world. Yup, I would have had a hard time with this story too.

  2. It is frustrating when a character doesn't grow as a book progresses. I think I'll skip this one.

  3. This woman sounds like a total unrealistic idiot!

  4. This is a good example why I don't put much faith in those free Kindle books, unless it is a classic. For me, too many good books, and too few years left to read them:) LOL

  5. I am also very cautious when it comes to free books, and rhapsody in books has expressed what I think about this heroine :)

    But it can be difficult to get it right. As I knew how important it was to leave scope for improvement, I created a protagonist who was so careful and boring I could hardly stand her myself. It took ages to knock some sense (and love of adventure) into her, but fortunately my Danish readers seem to like the final version.