Book Review: Death in the Shadows (A Father Gilbert Mystery, Book 2), by Paul McCusker

Publisher:  Lion Hudson

Publication date:  19th August 2016


death-in-the-shadows-by-paul-mccusker-coverOh we do like to be beside the seaside, don’t we? Englesea is no exception and this venue’s been particularly lively of late, or deadly if you’ve read the book summary.

There’s plenty to discover in the town, like the unique brand of graffiti desecrating St Sebastian’s, or the local ‘spa’ offering a very personal service to its visitors. And if that doesn’t occupy your time, you could try searching for someone’s missing daughter, get caught in the middle of a turf war featuring sex traffickers, and skirt dangerously close to the identity of a serial killer who is eluding police. This is without mentioning impromptu apparitions tipping you off that things are not as they seem. Not bad for a three day religious conference focussing on ‘issues facing the church’, eh?!

Father Louis Gilbert gets to endure all these traumas and more during his brief stay for the conference and is enticed into investigative matters, despite the Bishop indicating he should be paying more attention to preaching than policing. His previous experience left a lasting impression on his parish in book 1 (The Body Under the Bridge), so Gilbert debates whether to resist the forewarnings he’s experiencing once again. But it’s difficult for this ex-detective-turned-vicar to walk away when his intuition says it would be foolish to ignore the signs after what happened last time.

While reading the morning newspaper headlining the murder of a young woman he notices the detective in charge is none other than his old mentor from Scotland Yard. But when the young woman herself makes a rather grim appearance in the dining room as he’s contemplating his continental breakfast, Father Gilbert feels compelled to act and pops to the local police station to make ‘casual enquiries’. Gilbert and Gwynne provide excellent banter throughout, but a man of the cloth sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong leads him into all kinds of trouble!

For the most part he’s silently tormented and risks his integrity when the sinister undertones continue. Father Gilbert is aware that if his odd visions became public, it would leave him open to ridicule or of questionable mental health, and that’s not the best outcome professionally. His successes and failures are amplified by a watcher in the shadows, waiting to see how he performs. And no, it’s not the Bishop keeping a beady eye on him!

Although stepping on the toes of the criminal underworld and their sordid activities carries immense risk, he must have faith that his meddling will bring about change and can only hope that his intervention will free people from their hideous existence and not condemn them. But Father Gilbert is only human and he can’t save everyone’s soul. And that’s why I love his character, as he’s both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time: he also misjudges situations, has colourful family origins, and frequently ignores the ‘right thing’.

Death in the Shadows is a solidly layered mystery that keeps its feet firmly on the ground, despite the supernatural element. The contemporary themes and zero profanity combination make a refreshing change, yet it still has plenty of kick and I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for him next.

Rating: 4/5 (Could be read as a standalone, should you wish.)

(I received a paperback copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review, with my thanks.)


(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

When Father Gilbert traded in his detective’s badge for an Anglican priest’s collar, he never expected he would be pulled into a different kind of mystery – the mystery of the spiritual world. Even attending a conference in a seaside town provides no escape as he has yet another supernatural encounter, this time with a murdered girl who worked at a local massage parlour. Details of the murder lead Father Gilbert to approach the police with clues in common with other cases, bringing him into contact with a detective from his days with Scotland Yard.

Meanwhile, a local monastery has been vandalized, with grotesque images and profane graffiti defacing the altar and walls. The head of the monastery, from whom Father Gilbert received spiritual direction a couple of years before, is distressed by the attack, accusing the local sex trade industry of retaliating against his outspoken stand against it. Then, one of the brothers at the monastery is found dead in the local red light district. All evidence points to his having been a regular at a massage parlour – the same one where the murdered girl had worked. Intertwined within this web is a young woman who sees the same apparitions that Father Gilbert thought only he could see, plus an obstinate runaway, a distraught father, and a deep corruption pervading the town. And, whether he likes it or not, Father Gilbert is at the centre of it all.



(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Paul McCusker is the creative content director for Focus on the Family. He has been a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and drama since 1979. His work includes over forty published novels, full-length plays, dramatic sketch collections, and song lyrics. For the Adventures in Odyssey series alone, he has written over 200 half-hour radio episodes, eighteen novels, and two screenplays for the best-selling animated videos. He has dramatized many classics for Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, including A Christmas Carol and Jan Karon’s At Home in Mitford. He also wrote and directed the Peabody Award–winning Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom and created the highly acclaimed Father Gilbert Mysteries series.

Paul lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children.


Also Available, the first of the Father Gilbert Mysteries…

The Body Under The Bridge - Kindle Cover


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s