Author: Jaime Lee Moyer
Publisher: Tor, September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
Price: $24.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780765331823 (print)
Review copy: Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley
It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.
Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.
It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.
And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.
Delia's Shadow is a good, old fashioned paranormal murder mystery. The story is told, in part, from the perspective of Delia who has returned to San Francisco to attend the wedding of her best friend Sadie. As much as Delia wants to be with her friend she is loathe to return home. She had fled the city a few years previous after being pursued by ghosts, mainly those who had died in the catastrophic earthquake a decade before. It was very same earthquake that had taken the lives of both of her parents leaving her an orphan and living with Sadie's family. Delia had enjoyed three years of ghost-free solitude until she wakes up one morning to find a ghost of a young woman standing by her bed. This isn't a normal haunting as Delia's shadow is the key to catching a serial killer who is leaving a trail of mutilated bodies throughout the city.
While Delia tells one side of the story the other is told through Gabe. Gabe is a police detective and unfortunately, the target for the killer. The killer leaves Gabe a note with each of his victims, taunting the detective to find him. It's a race against time for Gabe to find the killer before he viciously murders anyone else. A non-believer in the paranormal, Gabe finds that he must put aside his preconceptions as Delia and her ghostly shadow may be the only way to solve the case.
Delia's Shadow is set around 1916 and the story has a wholesome naivete to it that makes it seem like it was written during that period. The plain and quiet Delia is almost a shadow herself in comparison to her vivacious and society-conscious friend Sadie. Gabe fulfills the stoic, hero role with gusto as he struggles to solve the murders. The characters were fairly stereotypical and slightly one dimensional. There are no real surprises especially the romance that blossoms between Gabe and Delia and I guessed 'who dunnit' which was unfortunate. I felt the story dragged a bit in the middle as Moyer tried to flesh out the plot with further murders. Sometimes, less is more and in this case more murders does not make for a more exciting plot. The characters however, are engaging and true to the period. Gabe and Delia's romance matures throughout the story but Moyer doesn't allow it to over power the mystery. Moyer also gets the balance right when describing the environment, including the crime scenes. It was obvious she had done a lot of research into the time period.
I am not certain what the typeface is but it looks quite art deco and there were several maps of old San Francisco in the front of the book. I don't normally notice typeface, especially when I am reading an eBook, but this is one time when I wished I had been reading a physical book instead. The cover is gorgeous and I am sure the hard copy is lovely.
Delia's Shadow is Moyer's debut novel and this is a solid paranormal mystery. A slightly tighter plot would have taken this from just good to fantastic.