cover image Bloodless Shadow

Bloodless Shadow

Victoria Blake, . . Berkley Prime Crime, $14.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-425-20309-5

In British author Blake's engaging debut, world judo champion Samantha Falconer, now a London PI, returns to Oxford, where she spent her painful childhood, to look into the disappearance of the wife of John O'Connor, a psychiatrist friend with ghosts of his own. Having long regarded her dead father as a hero, Samantha is shocked to suddenly receive a letter from a man claiming to be him, warning that her life is in danger. As the investigation takes her back and forth from London, where the missing woman has a flat, Sam receives more mysterious communiqués and a gruesome threat. Complicating matters is a lingering attraction to an Oxford police detective and former lover still wincing from an embarrassing judo match with Sam. When her client's mistress turns up dead after being questioned by Sam, she's unsure whether to go on trusting O'Connor, who forces Sam to re-examine her recollections of the past. Blake's skill at depicting the dark and light side of her characters, the smoothly interwoven plot lines and the authentic settings make this a strong first. Agent, Patricia Moosbrugger. (July 5)