"Shadowed," by Stephanie Black, tells the story of music teacher Catherine Clayton who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Having moved to a struggling New York town, Catherine is thrown into the middle of a web of relationships stemming from the previous murder of a beautiful elementary school secretary, Olivia Perry.
Attending the same Mormon ward is not the only thing that Catherine has in common with the murder victim. It quickly emerges that the same people who were interested in Olivia, romantically and otherwise, seem to be developing the same relationship with Catherine.
The book is immensely readable and flows from one event to the next flawlessly, but sometimes the development of the mirrored relationships seem a little bit convenient and contrived. This does not detract from the readability, but does make the reader able to anticipate where some of the story lines are going.
To be fair, the author recognizes that she contrives the progression of the story through cliched dialogue, and she has her characters acknowledge the cliche.
The book can also be enjoyed by those aren't familiar with the LDS faith, but it brought a smile to picture people holding rushed conversations in the corridor before Sunday School, and the Christ-like way in which Catherine reached out to those who seemed determined to dislike her.
Having said that some elements of the development of the storylines were predictable isn't saying that the book and its conclusion are predictable. It keeps the reader gripped until the very end and is well worth a read.
What is also pleasing is that the tone and content is also appropriate for young adults, including my teenage daughters. They both enjoy murder mysteries, and this is one that does not use sex and violence to sell, it relies on good character development and more normal human interaction to develop a well-rounded story suitable for teens and adults alike.
James Holt is a senior lecturer in religious education at the University of Chester, UK. He occasionally blogs at www.101poundstolose.wordpress.com and www.theseplates.blogspot.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org