Edna Buchanan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning police reporter for the
Miami Herald, is back with the second in her Cold Case Squad
novels. Buchanan's previous fiction franchise was a series of
mysteries featuring Britt Montero, a reporter at a fictional Miami
The Cold Case stories are police procedurals that feature some
characters originally introduced in the Montero novels, including
Sgt. Craig Burch, Detective Pete Nazario and Lt. K.C. Riley. Those
common characters help make the Cold Case Squad mysteries
comfortably familiar to Buchanan fans. The focus on cold cases also
gives Buchanan an opportunity to show her love of Miami's very
unique geographical and cultural landscape as well as weaving in
history with a fictional back story.
The novel gets off to a slow start, which may turn off readers new
to Buchanan. That's unfortunate, because the plot of the SHADOWS is
worth sticking with until the end. This tale centers on an estate
that once belonged to one of Miami's most prominent families. The
family has at least two mysteries in its past: the disappearance of
the rumrunning patriarch and the murder at the Shadows of his more
respectable son. Pierce Nolan, the son, had become a pillar of the
community, in spite of his father's illegal history.
Now that the family has sold the estate, a developer plans to turn
it into another sprawling residential development, erasing more of
Florida's history and beauty in the process. That is until a feisty
preservationist asks the Cold Case Squad to get involved.
What they find shocks the city, halts the development and threatens
to tarnish the Nolan family legacy.
In this novel Buchanan makes it clear that she loves Miami and
scorns rampant development. While her critiques of overdevelopment
within the novel are not as pointed as Carl Hiaasen's work, it does
boost Miami from mere setting to almost a character in the story.
And with the additional, personal mystery involving Detective Sam
Stone, Buchanan uses history to her advantage.
SHADOWS can stand on its own as a separate novel, which isn't
always true of books that are part of a series. It would be an
enjoyable read even without all of the Montero background. For
Buchanan fans, this latest novel is all the richer for bringing
them closer to some of the players in Montero's mystery adventures
and providing a window back to Florida's early days.
Reviewed by Bernadette Davis on January 23, 2011