Shortening Shadows

Written by Tom Woodward
Review by Steve Donoghue

Tom Woodward’s absorbing, atmospheric noir novel set in 1935 Atlanta eventually comes to feature a terrific, unlikely trio of heroes: battered, tough-as-nails Detective Jim Greerson, wide-eyed and slightly innocent crime-beat reporter Matthew Grimes, and Lincoln Mallard, a cynical but valiant black private investigator. These three confront a series of grisly murders that seem patterned on the infamous “Atlanta Ripper” murders of 20 years earlier, and Woodward does a smooth, engagingly readable job weaving these three disparate personalities into his well-wrought world of the 1930s South with all of its social, economic, and racial tensions. And across the whole spectrum of Atlanta citizens (and potential suspects), Woodward brings an extremely sensitive ear for dialogue and a knack for plotting and pacing that keeps things broiling along right to its precisely-orchestrated climax. Not to be missed.