Review

18 Seconds

by George D. Shuman



18 SECONDS is a gritty and suspenseful police procedural with a
unique twist. Written by George Shuman, a 20-year veteran of the
Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the novel has all
the ingredients one expects from a first-rate mystery. A brutal and
sadistic criminal operates one-half step ahead of the law
enforcement agencies seeking to end his reign of terror. Along the
way the reader meets innocent victims whose lives are destroyed by
random acts of senseless violence that cannot be explained or
justified. Violence comes to these victims in the same freakish and
capricious manner that a lightning strike or tornado destroys
lives. Readers also meet police officers searching for solutions to
brutal crimes while balancing the daily problems of personal lives
and battling the bureaucratic infrastructure found in all law
enforcement agencies.


Shuman adds a special ingredient to this mystery stew in 18
SECONDS. He introduces readers to Sherry Moore, a blind and
beautiful "investigative consultant" with an extraordinary talent.
Moore can touch a corpse and see the images viewed by the deceased
during the final 18 seconds of life. This remarkable vision is the
result of a childhood accident. It allows Moore to assist in
solving the unsolvable, but along with this talent comes a burden.
The visions passed by corpses to Moore are not clear-cut answers to
the question of who committed the crime. Oftentimes the pictures
are merely pieces of a puzzle that must be solved by Moore before a
finished portrait of a murderer is available to the police. It is a
difficult and demanding task that takes a heavy toll on Moore's
psyche.


Every quality police mystery must have a criminal whose actions
strike fear in not only the fictional world of the author but in
the fictional world created for the reader as well. 18 SECONDS
brings the reader Earl Sykes, a serial murderer whose trail of
violence is interrupted when he's imprisoned and sentenced for a
vehicular homicide. Incarceration serves only to embitter Sykes
further and indeed expand his web of violence to include those who
he believes contributed unjustly to his lengthy prison
sentence.


The main protagonist of 18 SECONDS is Wildwood, New Jersey police
lieutenant Kelly O'Shaughnessy. She confronts the difficult task of
being a female police officer attempting to succeed in what remains
primarily a male-dominated profession. But problems with some of
her male co-workers are the least of her worries. Murders eerily
reminiscent of unsolved crimes that happened decades before are
occurring on the boardwalk of her community. It is through a
connection to an unsolved murder in Pennsylvania that O'Shaughnessy
meets Moore and Detective John Payne. At wit's end in her efforts
to solve the boardwalk murders, O'Shaughnessy enlists the aid of
Payne and Moore. Their paths converge in a night of retribution and
violence that will keep readers awake, turning the pages as they
rush to the finale of this fine mystery.


18 SECONDS is a notable maiden effort for George Shuman. As a
writer he obviously shares with his audience a background and
knowledge of police work. His characters are real, with the
exception, of course, of Moore's parapsychological ability to
converse with the dead. Exciting mystery novels often require the
willing suspension of disbelief. This first-rate work is no
different. Readers willing to accept the fact that in fiction plot
often trumps the truth will find in the pages of 18 SECONDS a
rewarding and exciting crime novel from an author with great
promise.


   










Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on December 22, 2010

18 Seconds
by George D. Shuman

  • Publication Date: March 27, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • ISBN-10: 0743277171
  • ISBN-13: 9780743277174