I really enjoyed reading Woman in Shadow, by Carrie Stuart Parks. The mystery and suspense elements reminded me of Ted Dekker, one of my favorite authors. I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
While recovering from PTSD, forensic linguist Darby takes on a case at Camp Mule Shoe, where foul play has enshrouded the camp director’s efforts to maintain the team-building center.
Main character Darby is both believable and likable, with a wealth of knowledge in her field. Prior to reading the novel, I had never heard of a forensic linguist, and I enjoyed learning about the job title. I also really appreciated Darby’s explanations of her work and the nuances of language. Darby explained things in layman’s terms, with her explanations tucked neatly into the storyline. These descriptions melded with the narrative, rather than feeling forced or awkwardly inserted. I also felt that these explanations showcased the knowledge of her subject matter. I couldn’t tell if the content was researched, or based on a background in the field.
I really enjoyed the “whodunnit” aspect of the storyline. While I often read books mainly for the romance, the romance was very light, clean, and peripheral. It was the mystery that maintained my interest.
I took turns entertaining each of the characters as potential suspects, and while I had my stronger hunches, this definitely wasn’t a story that I had completely figured out.
The suspense undercurrent made its dramatic entrance in the second half of the book, when the violence and the urgency intensified. Without giving away the details, I would definitely like to make a note about the violence in the story. While the details weren’t particularly graphic, there were quite a few deaths.
One element that felt a little forced to me were the flashbacks. The formatting of these also threw me off a little.
The spiritual element felt like it may have been added after the storyline had been written. I think there were two (very popular) Bible verses included. While these are powerful verses, their popularity made me suspect that these were added after the fact. The character does experience a turning point in her faith, but this felt very minor to the story. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend the story for its spiritual themes. Instead, I see it more as a “Christian alternative” within the suspense genre. I would almost recommend this as a book that non-Christians can also enjoy, because of how light the spiritual themes are. However, I would be remiss to neglect to mention that the spiritual implications of the last line of the book made me feel very uncomfortable. For this reason, I wouldn’t want to recommend this book to non-Christians, because I feel that that last line misrepresents our faith.
This was an enjoyable read! I would recommend this book to fellow Christians, with a disclaimer that I do not agree with the implication of the last line. I’ll also be noting this reservation to the publisher.