A Long Shadow by H L Marsay

Title: A Long Shadow (Chief Inspector Shadow Mystery #1)

Author: H L Marsay

Published on: 12 May 2021

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Long Shadow is the first book in Chief Inspector Shadow Mystery series by H L Marsay.

Chief Inspector John Shadow and his sidekick Jimmy Chang investigate the death of a homeless teenager. Jimmy was the first officer to respond to the scene of crime – he was out on his morning run in the area when two homeless men discovered the body. The victim had spent most of her nights sleeping at the homeless shelter run by a popstar of yesteryears.

Shadow and Chang learn of a tiff between the victim and her best friends hours before her death. The body is sent for autopsy and the policemen learn the victim was poisoned. The same day, another body is found. Or rather, skeletal remains are found. The residents of North Yorkshire are shocked – two bodies in a day; the reporters will surely have a field day!

A Long Shadow is Helen Marsay’s debut novel. I absolutely LOVED every bit of the story. Be it the characters or the mystery or the storytelling, A Long Shadow is a smashing debut!

Chief Inspector John Shadow is a tad eccentric and old-fashioned. He first learns of the case when Jimmy comes barging into Shadow’s favorite restaurant (while Shadow’s enjoying a full-English breakfast) and starts talking about the case. Shadow doesn’t like to be interrupted, not especially when he’s eating. Shadow’s previous sidekick had enough of his boss’ ‘whatnots’ and moved to New Zealand and joined the police force there. Shadow’s colleagues joked of how there aren’t any police forces in Antarctica or the poor chap would have gone there.

Jimmy Chang’s family owns the famous Chinese restaurant in York. Unlike Shadow’s old-fashioned methodologies, Jimmy believes in everything modern. Wears a leather jacket and sneakers to work, unlike Shadow’s wax jacket and police shoes; uses an electronic notebook to note down witness statements and important information regarding the case.

Jimmy is energetic, eager and full of modern ideas while Shadow is calm, keen observer and shuns company. Jimmy seems to have picked up a couple of American terms from somewhere – the usage of which gains him some sniggering from Shadow.

I really loved the contrast between the two sleuths. Irrespective of their ‘shortcomings’, they get along well and end up finding the missing piece of the puzzle, thus solving the case together. Coming to the mystery behind the murder, it certainly kept me guessing till the end. The list of suspects is long but each of them seem to have an alibi. Now, that doesn’t sound good, does it?

Shadow doubts if the two cases are related – they cannot be, right? One occurred decades ago while the other, recently. But both the cases have one thing in common – some of the suspects knew both the victims, even if the murders took place decades apart.

They reminded him of the case. The more he investigated, the more the suspects, victims and witnesses appeared to become intertwined. All their lives weaving in and out of each other’s.

Though a first in the series, Chief Inspector Shadow Mystery series has made its way into my list of favorite series. As I was reading through, Shadow reminded me a tad of my favorite detective Littlejohn and of course, his side-kick Cromwell. Helen is a master storyteller. It felt like I was reading the latest installment of my favorite series and not a debut – this book is THAT good, believe me!

A Long Shadow by Helen Marsay (HL Marsay) is an engrossing, unique and riveting mystery. A smashing debut and one of the best books I have read this year. I am eagerly waiting to read the next book of this series.

Many thanks to Helen and Tule Publishing for a copy of the book.

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