Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Review of "Night of Shadows," by Edward Gorman

Review of
Night of Shadows, by Edward Gorman

Four out of five stars
 This book is set in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at a time when the level of how of how modern a city was is based on the number of telephones and indoor toilets. The time context is 1895 and those facts are cited as points of pride in this book about a murder and how it is solved.
 Anna Tolan is a matron in the Cedar Rapids Police Department, a necessity when females are arrested. However, given the nature of the times, she only wears a star and not a uniform and has no prospects of ever rising higher in the force. Yet, she is a student of the development of modern scientific police procedures, specifically those stated by Goron.
 When the aging gunfighter Stephen Fuller comes to town to visit his dying boyhood friend, he brings a reputation that shines far brighter than his actual deeds. Fuller is a slave to drink and when in need he embellishes his life to the point where he killed many more men and had encounters with the other legends such as the Earps, Hickock and Masterson.
 There is a death by shooting and all of the circumstantial evidence points to Fuller. However, Anna believes his protestations of innocence and rides her Imperial bicycle around town looking for clues to the real killer. There is a far greater evil in the city than anything associated with Fuller and it is up to Anna to follow the trails to their proper conclusion.
 This is not a murder mystery as they are usually concocted. The reader is given all the events in real-time, so there is no dropping of hints as to the actual perpetrator. The main theme of the story is how a woman of ambition and intelligence navigates in what is the man’s domain of law enforcement. Proper decorum regarding the process of formal courting is also an occasional plot twist. It is not a great story that keeps you puzzled, it is one that presents a world that is changing for the better, albeit slowly.

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