Review: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

Delias-ShadowThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.”

This is a very unique murder mystery, involving not only ghosts but other possibly darker entities.  With the novel set in San Francisco about a decade after the great quake, it’s easy to imagine restless spirits wandering the city and perhaps evil forces lingering after the quake’s destruction and death.  Unlike some ghost mythology, though, these spirits don’t re-enact their deaths or appear to be caught in a loop doing so.  Rather, they may sometimes display the marks of how they died.  For example, the ghost that Delia calls Shadow is usually dressed very properly, but she sometimes appears with the marks of a struggle on her face when she wants to communicate something about her death.

I have to wonder if Moyer has ever lived in the Bay Area, because she nailed not only the look of San Francisco, but the atmosphere.  Now admittedly, I wasn’t alive anywhere near the time period in question, but a lot of San Francisco retains a certain timeless quality that lets you believe that the city hasn’t changed much in the intervening years.  I found it very easy to picture the areas where the story takes place, not only because I’ve been to many of them, but because the author does a great job at conveying the locations’ appearances and attitudes.

I really enjoyed the way the author wove the characters together into the plot.  If someone had more than a few lines of in the book, then they were sure to be involved in the narrative in some way, shape or form.  This doesn’t mean that those characters are safe, though; instead, the author gets you to care about these people before throwing them into the sights of a relentless killer… and not everyone comes out alive.

With a combination of interesting characters, a location chock full of atmosphere, and a complex yet tight plot, Delia’s Shadow was one of those books that I had a hard time putting down when it was time to do things like go to work or make dinner.  It will appeal to fans of fantasy, mystery, or thrillers, so go read this one and then recommend it to as many people as you can.  Likely, they’ll enjoy it too.