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Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

In the first UK published novel by Rachel Howzell Hall, we are introduced to Detective Elouise Norton. Based in Los Angeles, Elouise has just landed herself a new partner, a young fresh faced detective, Colin Taggert, who is yet to experience the hard work of LA homicide. 

Their first case together involves the strangulation of a teenage girl found on the building site of a high profile developer. Experienced and intuitive; Elouise suspects there is more to the case than a routine suicide. 

As they become more involved in the case and as the body count increases, Elouise finds that her own past where her own sister disappeared may have some bearing on the case. Or is she just letting the ghosts of her past cloud her judgement? 

There are a few suspects scattered throughout the story and little point of view snippets from the killer adds to the suspense. I really liked the character of Elouise. Balancing her past, her job and her marriage is not an easy thing but she handles her situations like any strong woman can. I thought her character and storyline was something akin to James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club, only grittier and more intense. 

I also enjoyed the start of her working relationship with Colin. You can tell that there is a certain clash of personality or view at times, but they work well together. I always think it’s quite important in crime novels for the lead detectives to have some kind of chemistry, and for the start of a new crime series, I think there is plenty of potential for a decent pair of crime fighters to develop further. 

Rachel Howzell Hall grounds the reader strongly in the location, depicting both the rich and poor areas of LA with detailed locations and convincing language. The prose is well crafted build suspense and keep the pages turning. 

Great characters and a well devised premise, this is a really impressive start to what I hope will be a gripping new crime series. Definitely one to try if you are crime fiction reader and Howzell Hall is definitely a name to watch out for in the future. 

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