In Her Shadow has this subtitle descriptor “A Gripping Psychological Thriller with a Twist.” It is essential to keep this description in mind because the book, published in 2019, describes the novel written by Adam Nicholls and Jay Nadal. There is another book with the same name (minus the descriptor) published in 2018 by another author. Both are described as psychological thrillers. The accolades on the Amazon pages are remarkably similar, which may be more a reflection on book reviewers and canned comments than accurate observations on the content and structure of the reviewed item. This is another way to say I read the novels for which I post comments. No judgments. Just saying.
The authors had a difficult time to conceal the twist in this novel. Adam Nicholls noted this in his Afterword section. The setting for this novel is, for the most part, minimal. Most action takes place in an interrogation room of a police station. The story is relived through the eyes of Erin Meyer, who might be termed an unreliable narrator. Detective Roberts believes her to be unreliable. The story develops as Erin tries to convince Roberts through verbal testimony that it was not Erin who killed Jack. It was the other woman, Kris DeCarles. Police officers performed as they were trained. In a confusing situation where it could not be determined who had beaten Jack, the police arrested everyone. Even Jack, who was transported to the hospital in a coma, would have been arrested if the police had arrived when the incident was still at the stage of a domestic disturbance. At present. Kris was detained and interrogated in one room, Erin in another.
Readers are exposed to the mystery primarily through the question and answer sessions between Roberts and Erin. Roberts veers back and forth between believing Erin’s account and total disbelief. The police discover clues and deliver them periodically to Detective Roberts, each time giving Roberts fresh material for questioning.
If I were to rate the point at which I had the novel figured out from 1-100, I knew who did it by the 80% point. The book is a page-turner. It is listed at 290 pages in 40 chapters. My reading speed allowed me to estimate just over five hours for completion; it took me two and one-half hours in one session. One reason for that is the structure in the way the pages are laid out. Several pages appear as half-pages.
Although a good story, I felt it had no depth and was too easy to figure out. There are three chapters from a follow-on novel after In Her Shadow concludes. I detected similarities which discouraged me from wanting to read You Saw Too Much although I will read more from these authors when they are not writing collaboratively. One similarity, or trope, goes like this. “ ***** (put in the name of any male protagonist) was not like any other man I ever met. He listened to what I said and paid attention to things important to me. He bought flowers. He opened doors. He asked me about me.” To which I have several responses, but I will limit myself here to only socially acceptable ones. I don’t want to be confused with a politician. First response, “Give me a break.” Second, from the Valley Girl Universe, “Gag me with a spoon.” Third, ”OK, sometimes, but these characters are rare in real life. They don’t appear in every novel.” Two such protagonists (with different names) appear in this novel and the one following.
For this novel, it is the characterization of Jack that put me off and led me to give this 3.5 Amazon stars. I can’t give such a rating. Three stars is too low a rating. Four stars is too high a rating. The syrupy character of Jack decides the coin toss at three Amazon stars. The novel sells on Amazon for USD 0.99.