Seven Shadows: A Dana Hargrove Legal Mystery
by V. S. Kemanis
Opus Nine Books

"She feels slightly reckless but hasn’t lost her perspective or turned off her radar. By no means has the stalker left her mind."

The protagonist of this involving mystery seems to have it all. Dana is a middle-aged judge in New York City. She has a loving husband who teaches law, a boy and a girl in college who seem to exemplify the best and the brightest, and a sister who’s a successful actress. She’s also well-respected by the people who work with and for her. Yet the core of this novel is not about superficial perceptions; it’s about being able to see things from different perspectives, and the need for empathy as well as experience when making difficult decisions.

The heart of the mystery involves a stalker (if it is only one) who appears bent not only on intimidating Dana but her family as well. Cryptic notes begin to turn up, notes that don’t make threats explicitly but rather are seemingly coded accusations about Dana, her family’s status, and questions of class inequities. As these odd missives increase, so too does the suspense about who is sending them and why, and certainly what the stalker’s ultimate intent might be. Tension mounts and leads to a climactic confrontation that is surprisingly different from what one might expect.

Author Kemanis has created an engaging plot on which to build her narrative—one chock full of technical legal expertise. Yet it is the emotional tributaries that flow from that plot that give this story a greater sense of literary weight. By honestly exploring the intimate feelings of her characters, she lifts this tale to a level above the average mystery. Readers will not simply question “whodunit” but also why we do the things we do and how we all might do them better.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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