Land of Shadows


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Review - LAND OF SHADOWS, Rachel Howzell Hall

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User Ratings. External Reviews. Metacritic Reviews. Photo Gallery. Trailers and Videos. Crazy Credits. Alternate Versions. Rate This. That open wound of not knowing but certain of the guilt of a wealthy Black developer is part of the engine which drives her. And now, an eerily similar set of circumstances which culminated in the murder of an eighteen year old girl with a ton of secrets in her closet brings those ghosts front and center. Unfortunately, Elouise is also dealing with a headed off the cliff marriage to a game designer with a penchant for cheating and then making it up with really expensive gifts.

This aspect had me feeling kind of sad because there are so few Black game designers, especially in fiction, and I would have loved for Elouise and Greg to have a healthy relationship. Oh well, c'est la vie. Oh, did I mention that she's a bit of a nerd herself? Cool points. The peripheral characters are not stereotypes. The gangbanger shows a vulnerability even as he tries to be hard. The heroin addict is somebody's little girl whom society has abandoned.

The baby mama does the best she can with what she has. And while it may seem there's some slut shaming involved, what is being shown is the complexity of Black girls negotiating womanhood in a world that has no place for them. There's a wonderful catharsis in having the disappearance and deaths of two Black girls actually worked on with diligence and solved with tenacity.

Given the lack of concern when our girls disappear, this catharsis is powerful. Thank you Ms. Of course, it's important that such an awesome heroine have a coterie of best girlfriends who will ride hard for each other. Lena and Syeeta are Black, upper class and unapologetic. They come armed with Laboutins and Beemers and good advice when their "sister" needs it.

Given the fact that positive Black female friendships are seldom shown, it's always nice to see them reflected. And Colin. I liked him, even at his most deer in the headlights clueless. In the beginning he stumbles, misses a lot of cultural clues. Still, his heart is in the right place and as the novel goes on, he and Elouise iron out the kinks every new cop partner must go through.

Before I forget, this line right here: And I hated men like Von Neeley, the "nice" guys who always wanted to pray with you, who always offered you blessings and put-on smiles. Whores and thugs in the shadows, many of them, who committed the worst acts of violence against women and children. Men's Central was filled with huckster-holy men who had hooker problems, free-flying fists, and "sex addictions.

And Von Neeley was definitely a Jerk-in-the-Lord trainee. My grandmother has been bugging me to read this next. So I'm off to the next in the series. Tina, if this was your idea again , I owe you a venti coconut milk mocha caramel macchiato. We just won't be going to that Starbucks in Ladera Heights. Hall was dead on about that place. I could tell you stories. Talk about bougie. When you make this Valley nerd girl throw shade your way, you know it's bad. View all 4 comments. Mar 03, Nancy McFarlane rated it really liked it. But at the same time she is a vulnerable wife, with a philandering husband, and a daughter, who is still filled with guilt for leaving her sister alone years ago.

Jun 20, Eileen rated it it was amazing. Land of Shadows was an excellent read - very exciting and thought provoking. The writer's style created a clear vision of each scene. The mystery kept pace with the reveal. She ties it up nicely in the end with enough clues laid out to make it enjoyable. I was right there with Elouise as she discovered who killed her sister. Very good - as my mother and father would say v.

Je Nie Fleming's voice propels this story, and her accents and lilts bring the characters and their surroundings to life. Moving onto the actual book. Land of Shadows is a very entertaining read. The strength of this book lies in its protagonist, Detective Elouise Norton. Although she has many traits and lines that make her seem like the typical badass headstrong, snarky, no-nonsense, queen of banter we repeatedly see a more vulnerable side to her.

Her compassion towards the victim gave the story a surprisingly poignant layer. The novel follow her investigation in detail, almost hour by hour. Although there are some cheesy moments or phrases, the gritty cop banter and darker themes balance them out. The ending lost a bit of the story's initial fizzle but I do recommend this if you want to read something that has a strong lead character, amusing dialogues, and a vividly rendered sense of place.

Read more reviews on my blog With the dual temptations of the location, and the promise of a notable debut, I dove straight in… In a refreshing change of style for the well-trodden path of Los Angeles based crime, the main character Detective Elouise Norton has grown up on the wrong side of the tracks in Los Angeles, clawing her way out of the social depravity of the projects, and fuelled by the mysterious disappearance of her sister, some years previously, to become a police officer, and work her way up through the ranks to become an intuitive and focused homicide detective.

So the central thrust of the plot is whether Crase as guilty as he appears, or does Norton simply want some closure on her own sadness, and sense of unfinished business? The investigations were engaging enough, with a particularly creepy criminal perpetrator at their centre, and there was plenty of scope for Hall to vividly bring to life the surrounding environs of Los Angeles, and gives us a real insight into the city. As her personal life unravels, and the emotional weight of the familial loss of her sister, impacts so greatly on her investigation, her focus and efficiency as a police detective provides a good counterpoint to the stresses of her life away from the job.

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Throughout the book, Norton remains a point of interest for the reader, and the ups and downs of the investigation gives ample opportunity for us as readers to really get beneath her skin, and make us entirely comfortable with this engaging character. As some light relief to the sadness she imbues through her experiences in the book, there is time for some delightful banter with her recently assigned new partner, Colin Taggert, from the less demanding police department of Colorado Springs.

With this relationship, Hall is given the freedom to poke gentle fun at this relatively unworldly wise detective, now in the alien environment of one of the most dangerous cities in the US, as Norton seeks to shape him into a decent partner. The back and forth repartee between them, compounded by the endearing idiocy of Taggert, is a joy, fuelled by equal amounts of growing affection underscored by frustration- a partnership that bodes well for potential further books in the series.

So very pleased to report that, all in all, Land of Shadows was a more than competent debut which provided enough interest in this first book for me to return for more. Looking forward to the next one. A good read, and would definitely recommend. May 06, Renee rated it it was amazing Shelves: first-reads.

Full disclosure: this was a Goodreads First Reads preview win for me. And that alone makes me soooooo happy. Because this is a great read. But better, Lou Norton is a great character. She is flawed, she is funny, and she is fashionable. But mostly she is smart and tough and she gets the bad guy. She has a life beyond the badge and it is messy, like most of us.

I believe a higher- Full disclosure: this was a Goodreads First Reads preview win for me. I believe a higher-brow way to put it is that her character is fully realized. This is a great kick-off for a series. Will the dead teenage cheerleader turn out to be connected to the decades old unsolved disappearance of Lou's own sister?

Will the landscape of LA--changing and evolving from the time of Lou's childhood through the riots to the hands of developers--really change the cast of characters as she knows them? Will she find the who and the why of this young girl's death and the who and why and what-happened of her own sister's death. Will she find some peace and space if she does? Oh, and then there's that husband of hers Good thing she's got good friends, a superior officer who's got her back and the rest of the homicide A-team to annoy her and support her in equal measure.

Dear literary gods, let there be more. Sep 26, Gina rated it it was amazing Shelves: california , library , murder , mystery-crime , criminal-charges , forensic-science , print-books , child-murder , death-child , family. They are all over the place and not difficult to find. I was recommended this book by Goodreads and so it sounded good and I checked it out of the library.

The wonderfully surprising thing about this book is that the female lead detective is black and the author is black as well. The book was well written and didn't have any of the stereotypical black images in the book. The book was based in South LA but as to the main character she was a strong female lead written without any urban language in her dialogue, except maybe a little when she was with her girlfriends. It's refreshing to finally see a black female detective in a lead role without any affirmative action or getting there because of her race or gender. She got her job because she is smart, tough, and gets it done.

I will definitely be following this series and this author. Her writing is fantastic! Mar 21, Tina rated it really liked it. But, after viewing the scene Lou is convinced that this is a homicide not suicide. As she delves deeper into the case she starts finding more and more evidence that this murder is related to the disappearance of her sister, Tori.

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Thirty years ago, Tori and Lou walked to the store where Tori was caught shoplifting. Lou was terrified and immediately ran home. That was the last time she ever saw her sister. Obsessed with finding out what happened to Tori, Lou will go to any lengths to find the murderer. With her job and marriage on the line, Lou will not give up, but as she gets closer to the truth she also gets closer to a violent killer who already has her in his sight.

I enjoyed the characters in this book and the story moved along very well. Sep 09, Melissa rated it liked it Shelves: she-and-or-they-but-not-he. The more sparkly side of three stars. Nice detecting, solid back story, and really the only fly in the butter was a line about getting the "toxicology reports" on the DNA evidence recovered at the scene.

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View all 3 comments. Jul 19, Annie rated it it was ok. Typed out a review and computer crashed. Lost the steam to rewrite the review. Basically, Lou is a really snippy character who mocks other people constantly in her head she loves to dump on other peoples' appearances even when they have done nothing to her. Also, the pacing was terrible.

We learn nothing for pages, zero clues, and then suddenly in the span of 3 pages we get an insane amount of info-dumping and so many answers thrown at us when we didn't even really have enough information t Typed out a review and computer crashed. We learn nothing for pages, zero clues, and then suddenly in the span of 3 pages we get an insane amount of info-dumping and so many answers thrown at us when we didn't even really have enough information to ask the questions.

Also I was right to hate genre fiction as a rule. Oct 13, Mark Stevens rated it it was amazing. One word: energy. Another: attitude. In abundance. Add a terrific issue urban renewal , a likable and feisty detective Elouise Norton and a vivid setting a glam-free L. Vodka, grenadine, and ginger ale, all living happily ever after in my bloodstream. How far you got in the first forty-eight hours helped determine whether you would be taking victory laps or playing a sad trombone.

And when I had busted him texting her while he was supposed to watching Letterman, he upgraded my Ford to the almighty Porsche. Purple roses … Who was the lucky whore now? And what would he buy me next? A space shuttle? Lou is full-blooded, opinionated. Snappy with a line and quick with a comeback, Lou Norton also has a heart. She feels the pain of her victims. And this new case, involving a young teenager found hanging in a closet, may lead back to the same set of characters that knew something about what happened to Tori.

One day I will luck out. One day, a callus will form around that part of my heart, and then I will stop caring like some cops, and then I will be as good as I can be. Hall ramps up the suspense to a taut finish and sets up a beautiful hand-off to the next book, Skies of Ash.

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What a book. Movie producers? Television series writers and developers? Come check out Elouise Norton. Apr 22, Lekeisha The Booknerd rated it liked it Shelves: netgalley. One that will keep you up reading all through the night. I was kind of shook up after reading it, but I like reading about decades old cases coming to light, whether it be fiction or real life.


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Detective Lou Norton gets assigned a case of a possible suicide. As she and her new partner, Colin Taggert, investigate the case, she is positive that it is no suicide. Detective Lou is one tough lady. I really liked her character. Trying to solve the case, and also teach her new partner the ins and outs of the streets in LA, is what she is about. It really picks up pace after about a quarter into the book. If you love Crime Fiction, this is a good book to add to your shelf. Jan 27, Don Gorman rated it liked it.

I had read Hall's latest book Skies of Ash , really liked it, and then discovered this one because of James. I think it is even better than the new one. Elouise Norton is just an outstanding protagonist in this story, her introductory exposure. Fun, tough, emotional, human, she is the complete package. The flashback feature here is not overdone, it is handled well, and the plot has a wild grouping of connected characters that keep us interested from A to Z. A really good effort with no downtime at all. I have now put Hall on my must read list.

Looking forward to spending some more quality time with "Lou. Jan 22, Rebecca Trotter rated it it was amazing Shelves: real-book. Land of Shadows is a crime thriller with a heartbreaking twist. It was that twist of a 25 year old unsolved crime against a teenage girl that made me want to read Land of Shadows.

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It was the perfect pacing of dialog, action, and historical events that make me want to read everything Ms. Hall has written. I have found a new favorite author, Rachel Howzell Hall. Nov 28, Kathy rated it it was amazing. I loved this excellent debut for this series. Can't wait for more with this female black detective as the protagonist. What a refreshing new voice we have in Rachel Howzell Hall. The writing is vivid and fresh. The "local color" provided by the people and parts of Los Angeles that may not be as well known as other parts was an added bonus.


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This along with an intriguing storyline made for a great read. Nov 08, L rated it really liked it Shelves: mystery. What a great read! Lou, the African American, woman detective, is a terrific character. Colin, her annoying new partner, is, well annoying, but learning. The mystery itself was quite good--perhaps a few too many bodies--going somewhere other than where I thought the author was taking us.

I'm looking forward to reading more by this author. Very excited to read the rest of the books in the series! This was just a really solid mystery with an interesting crime and a great character at the center. If you are looking for a mystery that's less of a thriller and more looking for clues and building a case, this is one you should pick up.

Great book - lots of suspense and fast pace action. If you like a good thriller, this is it. I have been reading a lot of books from Titan over the last year, most of them have been focused on the science fiction or fantasy genres, I do think that Sherlock Holmes also is closely related to these genres a bit. Land of Shadow is I think my first Titan book that falls in the category of a classical thriller that takes place in our current day and age.

This book really piqued my interest, I am always looking for books to offer me new experiences in fiction reading and Land of Shadow directly fitted into this category. Land of Shadow is written by Rachel Howzell Hall and is also one of the biggest debuts that Titan will be releasing this year. The story of Land of Shadows is far from your average whodunnit type of detective story and I do have to say this is important in the current fiction to make your story stand out.

Land of Shadow picks up directly with the action as homocide detective Elouise Norton is handed a new case. A teenage girl has been murdered and hanged from a condo construction site and it's up to Elouise Norton and her newly assigned partner Colin Taggert who is also freshly out of police school to find out just who the murderer is. Early on several preliminary conclusions are being drawn, however with most of them, like naming this case a simple teenage murder is one where Elouise doesn't by far agree with.

Because the body of the victim, Monica Darson, has been found on the property of Napoleon Crase a rich millionaire who Elouise still suspects of having murdered her sister years back And so the plot thickens! Elouise, being one of the best homicide detectives, starts to uncover information that brings both her and her partner Colin closer to the killer.

From this point Elouise has to start to tread carefully since the killer of Monica shows no remorse and doesn't mind to add Elouise to his list As the ending draws to a close and the days, hours and minutes start to count down the story picks up a great pacing, placing you on the edge of your seat just to find out who the killer is Rachel Howzell Hall tells a dangerous and powerful story in Land of Shadows with Elouise Norton when in her current investigation she finds leads to tie back to the cold case of the disappeared sister she is will to go the whole yard.

Now you may think that this does sound like a pretty straightforward detective story well trust me when I say that it isn't because mainly by a lot of twists along the investigation and by several of the characters and their interaction does Rachel Howzell Hall make her story count. There are a few elements which are required if you really want to make your story stand out and that is breaking cliches and coming up with new bit and pieces. This is also something that you will find back in Land of Shadows and mainly in the characters and their histories.

Having grown up in a harsh environment this was not something that was thought of her but she managed to do it, so it does comes to show that when you have a goal you should never give up on it. Ok so you know her past wasn't that great well her current situation also isn't all roses and sunshine. Elouise and her husband have everything they can wish for a big house in one of the richest neighborhoods but one thing is lacking between them, love, he has taken and still likes to take on the affair on the side and even though he knows that Elouise knows it, there is just no stop.

All along the storyline Elouise's mind is troubled with this fact she just doesn't know what is a wise decision to make. Well yes there is still more to Elouise's character. The disappearance of her younger sister and the ties to her current investigation, this again adds another distraction to the mix.

As you can see this is far from an easy life and with this all combined Rachel Howzell Hall has created a very strong female lead for her series, one that you will be connecting to and rooting for from the start. As a contrast to Elouise stands her new partner Colin Taggert, a recent transfer due to some family connections. Colin got on the fast track and made detective in only a few years But he is definitely far from experienced, and this is something that slows Elouise down.

He makes a lot of rookie mistakes that could have turned out disastrous if it wasn't for Elouise there to save him It was a great addition to the storyline to see the friction that was caused by having two different poles, but it wasn't all friction though, luckily. During the telling of the of the investigation, there are several chapters in which the attention is taking from the main story.

These chapter either involve flashbacks to the past of Elouise and her sister's disappereance or the focus on the twisted mind of the killer. I am always a big fan when an author does these things with his or her story as this, when carried out in a good way, adds tons of extra material to the story that will only make it grow more and more and embody a much bigger feeling. I think you can make up that Rachel Howzell Hall did achieve this. A lot of extra information is given with these alternating chapters, without taking the focus from the main storyline, it was all cleverly interwoven with each other.

Land of Shadow is a powerful story by a new and exciting voice in crime fiction. Rachel Howzell Hall has created a strong female lead for her story in Land of Shadows, Elouise Norton is far from the standard detective, her own troubles of her past and current life definitely feel like a weight on her shoulders that feel like they will topple her over at any moment, but her strong personality keeps her upright and she only grows more and more as the story continues. The way in which Rachel Howzell Hall tells her story, the narration and switching of point-of-view, highlighting the killer's mind as well as the flashbacks of Elouise's sister really help to bolster a much bigger feeling to the story.

Land of Shadows is a thrilling start of a new series that will make you laugh with some of the squad humor but will also produce goosebumps during the crime scene investigations, just perfect. Don't miss this one! I'm not really sure how this book crossed my radar but I'm glad it did. I liked how this story was laid out, how Lou, while working a current case, we learned more about her past, about the big event that shaped her life and how she became the woman she is. What happened to Lou's sister was horrible, more so because you never knew, you guessed she was dead, but with no body there was no closure for the family.

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