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The Shallows: A Nils Shapiro Novel


The Shallows: A Nils Shapiro Novel

You could pretty much draw a straight line from Philip Marlowe through Spenser to Nils Shapiro. Author Matt Goldman has fused Marlowe’s world-weary demeanor with Spenser’s razor-sharp wit and created Nils, who is somewhat of an ethnic fish out of water in the Scandinavian gene pool of Minneapolis. With great wisdom, Goldman has gradually evolved his private investigator over the course of two novels --- GONE TO DUST and BROKEN ICE --- and continues to do so with THE SHALLOWS, the newly published third (and perhaps best) book in the series thus far.

The body of a prominent attorney named Todd Rabinowitz is discovered by his wife in a somewhat grisly tableau, which is obviously intended to send a message. But what exactly is the message, and who is sending it? His widow retains Shapiro to investigate the murder, but she is merely the first in a long line of those requesting his services with respect to the crime.

"You may ferret out some of the places that Goldman will take you, but it is doubtful you will guess all of them correctly. That is part of the fun of THE SHALLOWS."

The local police department, which can’t possibly be as hapless as it seems, would like to bring Shapiro in as a consultant. The widow’s boyfriend (not all was well between the deceased and his bride), who is a highly regarded metal sculptor in the Twin Cities, wants Shapiro to find the killer for his own reasons. Rabinowitz’s high-powered law firm wishes to hire him as well. When an anonymous party sends a bomb to their offices --- one that goes off and causes significant damage --- there is no lack of suspects.

That aside, the conflicts of interest for Shapiro weave a tangled web, and he isn’t at all above yanking the strings and chains of each and all, even as he dances on the line of ethical violations. Sometimes it seems as if he is giving this or that client unusual, if not outright bad, advice, but it’s generally in pursuit of the truth. However, when two more people are found in what appears to be a murder-suicide, the police want to close the case. Shapiro is more or less on his own, though the law firm is still backing his horse, at least to some extent. The evidentiary trail leads him into the world of politics, at which point the twists and turns of the plot take us into some head-spinning directions. You may ferret out some of the places that Goldman will take you, but it is doubtful you will guess all of them correctly. That is part of the fun of THE SHALLOWS.

Goldman uses Shapiro as a vehicle for a fine tour through Minneapolis, from its skywalks and restaurants to its shopping malls and baseball team. His personal life gets a bit of an upgrade as well, though it may not seem like that at first. The results provide a number of plot threads that may play themselves out over the course of the next few volumes of this enjoyable series, which demonstrates that the private-eye subgenre remains strong, viable and readable, just like Shapiro and THE SHALLOWS.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 14, 2019

The Shallows: A Nils Shapiro Novel
by Matt Goldman

  • Publication Date: June 4, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250191319
  • ISBN-13: 9781250191311