Book Reviews: Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd and Reaper’s Legacy by Tim Lebbon

Hunting ShadowsHunting Shadows
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery #16
Charles Todd
William Morrow, January 2014
ISBN 978-0-06-223718-7

Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd is yet another thrilling historical mystery in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series.

Charles Todd is actually a mother-son writing team and I was fortunate enough to hear the mother part of the team talk about their writing process at a Malice Domestic a couple of years ago. Mother and son live in different states, so this is a fascinating collaboration of two gifted writers.

Hunting Shadows is well-written and equally well researched. The novel takes place in 1920s England, where Inspector Ian Rutledge, haunted by his experience in World War I, is called to Cambridgeshire to solve a double murder. The local police are puzzled by a phantom killer and it is up to Rutledge to find and bring the murderer to justice.

Todd brings the terrors of the trenches alive. The voice of Rutledge’s killed friend Hamish is buried deep in his subconscious, commenting on the case and pointing him in different directions. Other characters in this novel are equally tormented by their war experiences.

Apart from the novel’s well-rounded characters, I especially liked the setting. There is the continuous underlying danger of the Fen country’s fog and marshes. Throughout the novel, I felt as if I was walking around the small town of Ely along with Rutledge, questioning witnesses, driving in his motor car and trying to make sense of a world that had just been shaken to its core by a World War.

For anyone who enjoys historical mysteries, this is another gem that should not be missed.

Reviewed by Anika Abbate, April 2014.




Reaper's LegacyReaper’s Legacy
Toxic City Book Two
Tim Lebbon
Pyr, April 2013
ISBN 978-1-61614-767-9

There are so many things I love about this story. First are the characters, which should always be the heart of a good book. Here we have two basic main characters, Lucy-Anne and Jack. They are part of a small group of teens who have snuck into London, a city that has been closed off from the rest of the world for a few years due to a contagion that was released within it. This contagion has killed many but for some it has given them advanced psychic abilities.

Lucy-Anne has come to London in search of her brother while Jack has come to find his family, only to learn that his father has developed a psychic ability to kill. This is so extraordinary that he is hunted by the government and his sister and mother are being held prisoner by that same government. While Jack seeks to save his family, he finds that he is also affected by the contagion that was released, while his close friends were not. He struggles with the changes within him and to keep his humanity in tact while protecting those he cares about. His gifts are extraordinary and have been bestowed upon him directly by a woman known as Nomad.

On the other hand, Lucy-Anne was born with certain gifts and coming to London may have enhanced them or maybe has given her the freedom of trusting those gifts. Either way, she splits from Jack and his group, joins with a boy called Rook, and together they search for her brother.

The world that Tim Lebbon has created is both fascinating and original. I don’t want to give away too many details, but I like the fact that in this genre of “Armageddon fiction” he has created a scenario where the battle is being fought on a smaller scale which makes it more manageable and relatable to the reader than most. His details are fantastic, at times wondrous or horrifying, depending on the circumstances and both main characters struggle to achieve their goals, knowing that they might not like what they find either within others or themselves.

It is clear that both are tied to either saving or ending the city, both have links to the mysterious Nomad and while now separated, belong together to fight their battles.

The only complaint I have about Reaper’s Legacy is the ending. Like many books in this genre, the book ends mid-story, to be picked up in the next book. I guess I’m old-fashioned but I prefer my books to have a complete, more satisfying ending while hoping and expecting the story to continue. This quibble is small and probably dated, but it won’t stop me from reading the next book in this series and I suppose that’s the point.

Reaper’s Legacy is a good book that is well worth the read.

Reviewed by Erin Farwell, April 2014.
Author of Shadowlands.