When Shadows Fall
WHEN SHADOWS FALL, the third book in the Dr. Samantha Owens series, finds J.T. Ellison's protagonist placed in a very unsettling situation. Her husband and children were lost in a tragic flood in Tennessee, and the light was literally taken from her life.
Sam was a well-respected medical examiner, but her work in this field continually put her in harm’s way. One particular incident found herself the captive of a demented killer who injured her so severely that it became impossible for her to have children ever again. Devastated, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her life.
Sam’s path leads her to somewhat of a career shift into the world of academia when she takes a teaching position at Georgetown University. She is still called upon by members of the law enforcement field for her expertise --- but her personal preference would be to forget that part of her life and move on.
"Ellison provides keen observations into the psyches of all these characters, making for a compelling and deeply personal novel."
Sam's dreams of a new start are all but shattered when she receives an eerie and disturbing letter from a complete stranger named Timothy Savage. In it, Savage confesses to being murdered and implores Sam to investigate this further. There is also an odd connection made to the personal loss she suffered and how this makes her the only person who can bring about justice for him.
Savage left both a list of potential suspects and a will that contains some of the same names. Sam performs an autopsy confirming that Savage died due to foul play and strangulation. The initial report was that he had committed suicide by ingesting a chemical agent --- a deadly ploy referred to as “detergent suicide.” Sam doesn't believe it and neither does her current boyfriend, Xander Whitfield, or her old FBI colleague, John Baldwin.
It turns out that “Timothy Savage” was actually a pseudonym for an agent in deep cover. The investigation involved a cult known as Eden, fronted by a woman named Curtis Lott. Lott referred to herself as Mother Eden, and her followers, Edenites, have long been suspected in the kidnapping of young women for nefarious purposes.
As Sam and her colleagues dig deeper, they are able to tie the Eden cult into a cold case involving a missing young girl by the name of Kaylie Rousch. It had been concluded that Rousch was dead, and skeletal remains had even been found in the area of her abduction. It turns out that Savage's investigation might have found him uncovering Kaylie and putting himself in grave danger in the process.
As the plot unfolds, WHEN SHADOWS FALL becomes a tale of some damaged and broken individuals --- including Sam --- who have all suffered serious personal losses. Will some of these characters be able to save each other, or will Sam be the next victim of a deadly killer with a disturbing agenda? Ellison provides keen observations into the psyches of all these characters, making for a compelling and deeply personal novel.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on February 27, 2014