Bruce Robert Coffin: Among the Shadows Wednesday, Sep 28 2016 


When you’re a retired law enforcement officer and your last name is Coffin, it would seem only natural that the next step would be to write a police procedural, and Bruce Robert Coffin has done just that with Among the Shadows. Auntie M couldn’t help but be reminded of Gwendolyn Butler’s John Coffin Mysteries, but these couldn’t be farther from the handsome English detective surrounded by theater friends.

This Coffin has created a very different detective, even as he gets his Portland, Maine setting down just right. He captures the rhythm and politics of the detective force and its team, too. Then the veteran homicide detective gives readers an intriguing main character in Detective Sergeant John Byron, a man who has the true detective’s dedication to the Job, despite the costs.

The son of a detective who committed suicide, Byron’s at a crossroads in his life. His marriage has disintegrated and he sunk into drinking too much. Coffin avoids veering into cliche’ by having Bryon acknowledge this and actually do something about it, a refreshing character change that makes Byron all the more interesting with this determined inner strength when he’s caught up in the current case.

It starts with the deaths of two former Portland PD members, and at first it’s only Byron who sees a connection when a photo surfaces that contains an old team of law enforcement officers who formed a Special Reaction Team–and Coffin’s father was one of that team.

With a loyal team assisting him who each have their own area of expertise, Byron will fight his superiors to connect the deaths. He insists the team members are being killed off for their connection to an old case where robbers got away with over a million dollars with the money never being recovered. One of the four robbers disappeared, while the other three were shot on scene, as was a member of the police team. It’s long been thought that the missing robber has the proceeds.

Coffin will have to fight some of his superiors every day, despite his lieutenant trying to give him the autonomy he needs to set his team where they need to be headed. He’s thwarted in particular by the Chief and Assistant Chief, and as the case heats up, trailed everywhere by a young investigative reporter out to build a name for himself who manages to get in his way.

The pace is kept taut, and the closer the team gets to resolving these cases, the more danger the team find themselves in. Before it’s over, there will be surprises that will keep readers wanting to figure out this twisted case as much as John Byron himself.

An intriguing debut from a storyteller to watch, Coffin has already made a name for himself as an artist. He paints everything from portraits to landscapes, but the piece Auntie M was most intrigued to read about is a work titled “Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity.” The commissioned portrait commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and depicts Special Agent Edwin C. Shanahan, the first agent ever killed in the line of duty. The portrait is currently on display in the Boston field office of the FBI.

Coffin is a talented writer to watch~

Katia Lief: Vanishing Girls Sunday, Jul 15 2012 

Lief’s previous two suspense novels featuring former detective Karin Schaeffer are filled with malice and the kinds of twists and turns that kept readers turning pages as they became emotionally involved with her protagonist.

In Vanishing Girls, a serial killer who has remained on the streets of New York murdering prostitutes for two years appears to strike again.

Now married to her former partner, Mac, and with a young son, Ben, Karin is still learning to cope with loss when she becomes involved unofficially in the cases of two women found one Sunday night on a Brooklyn street.

With Mac ill with s serious case of the flu, Karin responds to a friend’s call and arrives on the crime scene. One victim is an eleven-year old girl, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run, who remains uncommunicative throughout the early part of the investigation. The second body mirrors the work of the serial killer on the loose.

Complicating matters is the post-traumatic syndrome that Karin and Mac’s good friend, homicide detective Billy Staples, is suffering from, a year and a half after loosing an eye and almost his life in a shootout with the woman he loved. His dazed appearance at the crime scene confuses Karin, and at the same time, convinces her Billy needs professional help.

“There was something to see hiding in the shadows” Karin thinks, as the plot turns and escalates.

As she gets involved deeper into the cases, a strange link occurs that will change everything, and terror will strike close to home, changing Karin’s family in unexpected and profound ways.

Lief paints a realistic picture of Karin’s distraught feeling that she attracts darkness to her life and the fears for her family that this brings. She’s also produced a suspense-packed novel that will have you looking for the next Karin Schaeffer installment.