Shadows of the Dead

Written by Jim Eldridge
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

Set in London, England, in 1921, this is the second mystery in the DCI Paul Stark series. Stark is a widower, the father of a young son. He is a decorated World War I veteran who sustained serious wounds. Stark has already been successful in his police work, according to hints about the backstory. Now he has found a new love, crossing lines of rank and privilege to embrace Lady Amelia Fairfax. When her ex-husband and his American businessman visitor are found murdered, Stark must conceal his relationship with Amelia to investigate the case.

A complex plot seems to suggest that a tie-in with the American movie industry is just a cover up for something far more dangerous. Stark is forced to seek help from Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for the Colonies, whom he met in the previous book. With backing from Churchill, Stark and his team try to rescue Amelia, unmask the real killers, and help ward off a danger to England far worse than he could have imagined.

This is a thriller, not a cozy. Those wanting thatched cottages and doilies must look elsewhere. Characters are well-drawn and fully-realized, particularly Stark’s family and his Detective Sergeant, Bobby Danvers. Meeting Winston Churchill in fiction is great fun. Readers do not need to read the first book in the series to enjoy this one, but they will probably find themselves looking for Assassins, which introduces Inspector Stark.