The Valley of Shadows
A Derek Stillwater Mystery by Mark Terry
Review: US authorities learn of a terrorist plot to detonate bombs in five major US cities, and assign Homeland Security troubleshooter Derek Stillwater to a team tasked with identifying — and hopefully preventing — the threat to Los Angeles in The Valley of Shadows, the fourth mystery in this series by Mark Terry.
The intelligence they have from a raid in Pakistan is credible — indeed, one bomb has already been detonated in Dallas, though it appears to have been set off early, possibly by accident, as there is only one fatality. Stillwater, who is charitably called a "maverick" by his colleagues, is quick to lean on his contacts in the area. Even with all their efforts, though, it doesn't prevent an attack at the port of Los Angeles, where a boat carrying an explosive device slams into a cruise ship. Still, something about the whole scenario doesn't sit right with Stillwater, who, even though he has nothing further — officially — to investigate in the area, presses on.
From a plot perspective, The Valley of Shadows is a typical action thriller that follows a group of nominally good guys (mainly US government officials) going after nominally bad guys (mainly Islamic terrorists). It's never quite as simple as that, of course, with some of the good guys doing questionably good things and some of the bad guys being, well, not so bad after all. What distinguishes this particular novel from so many others, however, are the creatively drawn characters that populate the narrative. Though ostensibly a Derek Stillwater series book, there are actually quite a few people to follow; the short chapters allow for frequent changes in point of view. But these are not one-dimensional caricatures of interchangeable dedicated, if sometimes rogue FBI agents and zealous, if often misguided jihadists; each has a distinctive personality that creates a visual image in the reader's mind, giving depth and interest to a rather predictable, though admittedly frequently exciting, storyline.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided a copy of The Valley of Shadows for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover), April 2010
ISBN-13: 9781933515755; ISBN-10: 1933515759
Location(s) referenced in The Valley of Shadows: Los Angeles, California
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The Valley of Shadows by Mark Terry — A Derek Stillwater Mystery
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: June 2011
List Price: $25.95