26 July 2009

Review: SHADOWS STILL REMAIN, Peter de Jonge

Avon (a division of HarperCollins Publishers), 2009, ISBN 978-0-00-730026-6, 275 pages

Nineteen year old Francesca Pena is an NYU sophomore on a track and cross-country scholarship. A talented and motivated student, she has risen from a socially disadvataged background. On Thanksgiving Eve she disappears after meeting some friends for drinks at a bar near Rivington, New York. Her disappearance is reported two days later by a former boyfriend who has been staying with her. A week after her disappearance her violated body is found in a toilet by the East River and the former boyfriend becomes the primary suspect.

The story that Detective Darlene O'Hara from New York's 7th Precinct and her partner Serge Krekorian eventually unearth clearly demonstrates that no-one knew who Francesca Pena really was. The revelation owes much to Darlene's persistence and determination, and her inner ability to sense when she is not being told the truth. There are things that Darlene learns about Pena that just don't add up, timelines that just don't work out. The case becomes high-profile one, with plenty of red herrings, and mis-judgements. Darlene is eventually suspended, and she and Serge complete their investigation under threat of severe disciplinary measures. The chance sighting of a distinctive tattoo eventually sends Darlene hurtling along the path that results in the arrest of Francesca's murderer.

I changed my mind about SHADOWS STILL REMAIN many times. It is noir, revealing a criminal underbelly in New York's city life that we always suspected was there, but hoped wasn't. I really don't think I enjoyed reading it, but on the other hand it was cleverly written. I wanted to know the final outcome, but wanted it to be over. I really like the character of Darlene O'Hara, and hope that I have the chance to meet her again. It is a novel that will mean much more to New York readers than it did to me.

My rating: 4.2

Peter de Jonge has previously written three novels in collaboration with James Patterson. How that worked is explained in a New York Times article. SHADOWS STILL REMAIN is de Jonge's first solo effort.


Bernadette said...

I never did get this one from the library...still on the list though so it'll arrive one day. I must admit I was underwhelmed by the thought of reading anything written by one of the folks who has teamed up with Mr Patterson for some cash so I had no intention of buying it.

Belle said...

I'm not sure if I'd like this one, but your review is very good. I think if it wasn't quite as dark as you describe, I'd probably like it.


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