A serial killer is roaming the streets of London, and Grace Murphy is worried she might be the next target. Not only are her friends showing up among the dead bodies, she’s having violent nightmares about murders, and wonders if they play a role in discovering the killer. DI Denis Hamilton and his team are on the case and are working hard to find the killer before they can strike again.
In the Shadows is told from three points of view – Grace’s, DI Hamilton’s, and the killer’s. After the recent death of her grandfather, Grace is struggling to find happiness. The closest she comes is while she’s at work, where she’s the assistant director at a local stage theater. There, she has Eric, the man she has a crush on, but who is sleeping with one of the other castmates. There’s also her slightly creepy boss, Michael, who clearly has feelings for her. All of these people eventually get tied up in the ongoing murder investigations, and Grace continues to have nightmares. Her mother suggests seeing a therapist who can eventually do hypnotherapy to help her uncover the reason for her nightmares.
Overall, I thought this book was just okay. I felt bad for Grace, especially when her best friend continued to blow her off when she needed someone to talk to and confide in, but I also wanted to knock some sense into her. There were many times where she got drunk alone and then wandered around at night, but if you’re worried a serial killer might be after you, wouldn’t you maybe NOT go out alone at night? Especially not when you’re completely wasted? It didn’t make sense. I also liked DI Hamilton, but I didn’t like the rest of the characters. They seemed selfish, shady, or just downright creepy. That said, because I didn’t like them, I wasn’t invested in them. I didn’t care if they lived or died.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I also felt like something was missing from the book. There were a lot of things I accurately predicted (including the killer), but one I didn’t, but when the twist happened, I didn’t feel any sort of shock or excitement at finally finding out who the killer was. Mostly I felt glad it was finally coming to an end. The suspense should have been there – the book had all the right pieces (the plot, and a main character who was directly impacted, and thus worried about her own life) but for some reason it felt lacking to me. The more I think about it, I think a lot of what bothered me was the dialogue between the characters. It felt forced and not at all the way people would talk to each other in real life. They were constantly using each other’s first names in every sentence. For example, I’ll quote a few lines of back and forth dialogue for you (I’ll leave out the non dialogue pieces that come in between)
“Maria, they scare me…”
“What is it, Grace? What are you thinking?”
“I think it all began after those young women were murdered. You see, Maria, I knew three of them.”
Another example a few pages later…
“Yes, I do want to carry on, Maria…”
“That’s brilliant progress, Grace…”
“Thank you Maria…”
Those lines were all within the same page. No one uses someone’s name THAT often in regular dialogue, and it took me out of the story when it happened (which was often).
So that said, the book was okay. I liked the plot, but didn’t like the execution. This was Tara Lyon’s first book published on her own, so it’s possible that her writing style will develop and change over time. I’d consider reading something of hers again in the future.