Book of Shadows
Alexandra Sokoloff

Published by St. Martin’s Press
Review by Tim Janson

The body of a young woman is found at a city dumpsite. Her head and one of her hands are missing and strange symbols are carved into her chest. For Boston homicide detectives Adam Garrett and Carl Landauer, it’s the start of a long night and a grisly case that points to a ritualistic killer. The body is identified an Amherst college student who is the daughter of a wealthy Boston businessman, making it top priority for the department. Garrett and Landauer now have their Lieutenant and the assistant DA on their backs, pressuring them to solve the case. Complicating matters is that this Assistant DA is also Garrett’s girlfriend, Carolyn.

All the evidence points to another student, Jason Moncrief, a singer in a gothic metal band who’s been acting strange and delving into the occult. When traces of the girl’s blood is found on Jason’s clothes, and the same symbols found in his apartment, Landauer and the Assistant DA think the case is a slam dunk. But Garrett is not convinced. Tanith Cabarrus, a practicing witch who owns an occult store in nearby Salem, is brought in as a consultant and is adamant that they have the wrong man. She believes that there are other murders that have taken place on pagan holy days, all leading up to the most important pagan holy day of the year – October 31st, Halloween-Samhain! Garrett’s structured police procedures are soon cast aside as more and more evidence points to something supernatural taking place. Garrett becomes dangerously involved with the witch to the point of risking his badge but he’s determined to find the real killer before he can complete his deadly ceremony.

Sokoloff’s book does what every good book should do … it grabs you right from the opening chapter and doesn’t let go. So precise and detailed is her narrative that you feel like you are on a ride-along with these two detectives as they go through their investigation, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses. You are kept constantly off guard as she skillfully twists the plot one way and then another, leaving you guess as to whether this is a simple murder or if there truly is something other-worldly going on. As Garrett makes the night drive from Boston to Salem, you can almost feel him slipping back in time to the dark colonial period and Salem’s terrifying past.

Garrett’s relationship with Carolyn is strained because the two come from different worlds. Carolyn is her element in Boston society while Garrett is blue collar and beer, creating an interesting dynamic. He is clearly out of place in high society and knows it, further pushing him towards a dangerous relationship with Tanish. Mystery, crime-thriller, and supernatural horror all meld together in one heck of a page-turner! Grade A

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