Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Josh Bartlett had figured all the angles, changed his name, holed up as a small-town features writer in the seclusion of the Blue Ridge. Only a few weeks more and he’d begin anew, return to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut and Molly (if she’d have him) and, at long last, live a normal life.
After all, it was a matter of record that Zharko had been deported well over a year ago. The shadowy form John had glimpsed yesterday at the lake was only that — a hazy shadow under the eaves of the activities building. It stood to reason his old nemesis was still ensconced overseas in Bucharest or thereabouts well out of the way.
And no matter where he was, he wouldn’t travel south over eight hundred miles to track Josh down. Surely that couldn’t be, not now, not after all this.
When Josh thinks he sees the shadowy figure of the gypsy, Zharko, in North Carolina, where he currently lives, he knows it can’t be good since he’s far away from where he grew up in Connecticut, and bad things have happened. Josh’s life takes many turns as he races back to Connecticut to get answers, and he’s in for more than he bargained for.
Josh’s past keeps meeting his present, and there’s a lot of darkness, evil and bad vibes. He’s trying to figure out what’s going on now and how it relates to events in the past.
His mother is not warm and fuzzy and keeps her own secrets. Molly, the girl he’d love to end up with, is wishy-washy at best, and I don’t get warm feelings from her, and neither does Josh! I did like J.J. and even Carmine, who he met in Connecticut. Things are sometimes just a little too convenient, especially when Carmine is around since he plays both sides. Josh and J.J., who seems to have a good heart, have a great rapport, and I had hoped their friendship would take a different path.
There are many twists and turns, and every clue and detail is important at some point. There are secrets, subterfuge, injuries, mobs, businesses that are not what they seem, memories, reminisces, familial connections, crimes committed, and good guys vs. bad.
Josh does a lot of investigating on his own, which gets him into a lot of unexpected trouble. His journalism background and working at a newspaper in North Carolina seems to help him in his quest for answers.
The story is sometimes choppy but mainly has a good flow. There is some closure, but there appear to be a few loose threads, and the book ended very abruptly for me. The cover is fitting to the story being told.
This is the first book I’ve read by Mr. Frome, but it won’t be my last. I enjoyed that it was set in Connecticut, where I’ve lived for most of my life, and the story came alive with all the landmarks and areas mentioned. It was easy for me to visualize the locations.
If you like mysteries with good versus evil, this may be a story you’d like. Shadow of the Gypsy is fast-paced and filled with characters you love to hate. There was intrigue and suspense throughout, and I’m ready for the next book!
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at UConn, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He also is a features writer for Gannett Publications. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, Moon Games and The Secluded Village Murders. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio: A History and a guide to playwriting and one on screenwriting, Miranda and the D-Day Caper is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
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