Reviewed by Dale Lewis
In the Shadow of Evil by Robin Caroll
"Robin clearly excels in interweaving redemption, forgiveness and the release of bitterness as the foundational ingredients in her contemporary novels."
Late for curfew, 17 years old Maddox Bishop comes home to find his mom
stabbed in the kitchen. She died in his arms. He and his father blame each
other for not being home to protect his mother. Eighteen years later, homicide
detective Bishop finds himself in the middle of an arson/murder case with
ties to the construction business.
Layla, a building contractor following in her dad’s footsteps and her sister, Alana, a director of a retreat center for cleaning up drug addicts are in the middle of the investigation. The detective’s and the contractor’s personalities clashed as they both search separately for answers not easily found. Can these two polar opposites work together? Will the attraction they don’t want to feel for each other get in the way of solving the mystery? Both Maddox and Layla’s stories run on a parallel track although their reactions to God in the midst of their personal crisis are on opposite extremes.
The real-life downturn in our economy and devastation along the southern coast during the hurricane season provides the background. Add the sudden illness and deaths in the small church community, the exposure of a building rebound scam and senseless murders, and you have the storyline of In the Shadow of Evil, which will quickly draw you into the action.
In any romantic suspense novel, once you’re hooked with the action, there needs to be a balance of suspense and romance. Caroll always keeps you on your toes with her storylines. But I felt that the romance between Maddox and Layla consumed too much copy.
Although becoming a believer is often a process and everyone’s story is unique, there is a better way to communicate the conversion experience besides “becoming saved.” It sounded too much like a Christian cliché that couldn’t be explained completely in the context of the storyline. Although well-written, a completely predictable conversion scene after the action has been completed seems forced and unnecessary. Carroll could have more successfully opted for more of an open ending, but did not. Also, for some unknown reason, the use of Layla’s catch phrase “splinters” when confused or frustrated, whether internal or spoken, became annoying after the fifth time.
As in her previous two “Evil” novels, Robin clearly excels in interweaving redemption, forgiveness and the release of bitterness as the foundational ingredients in her contemporary novels.
The discussion questions at the conclusion help the reader reflect beyond the story.
Even though I was slightly disappointed, I look forward to reading more from her in the future. She has not lost me as a fan!