THE SHADOW SIDE
Linda Castillo

 

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Berkley Sensation,  July 2003
Review by Joy Calderwood
 
Mystery Thriller

Elizabeth Barnes has spent ten years of her life creating the perfect anti-depressant drug. The last thing she wants to hear is that Valazine is turning people into raging killers. Adam Boedecker, the man who believes Valazine is dangerous, is not the most trustworthy of messengers. An ex-cop, Adam was shot through the head while making an arrest. His emotional instability is about to get him kicked off the disability list of the police force, when his brother unbelievably becomes one of those raging killers. Adam has all kinds of motive for laying the blame on someone Ė anyone Ė other than his brother.

All Elizabeth is trying to do is disprove Adamís theory, but threats and deaths are the response to her exploration. It is all too clear that Roth Pharmaceuticals employs at least one person for whom money is more important than the mounting toll of horrific deaths. But who? The only person it is safe for Elizabeth to talk to is the highly dangerous Adam; and the passionate attraction developing between them is putting more stress on both than their fractured psyches can bear.

THE SHADOW SIDE is psychological drama. The mystery, suspenseful though it is, is completely character-driven. Adam is wracked by his memories, Elizabeth pushes her memories aside, but both are ruled by them. Roth had been a simple, supportive environment where Elizabeth could work toward her dreams. When Adam threatens to shatter those dreams, Elizabethís comfortable oblivion develops cracks in areas seemingly unrelated to Valazine. When Elizabeth starts discovering how few of the people she has known are as they seem, it isnít just a convenience of the plot: itís the natural outcome for a scientist who has been too interested in science to wonder what the people around her are like. Suddenly everything she has depended on is tainted. Her rejected past begins creeping in on her. Adam, her opposite, has his past constantly before his eyes, giving him an atmosphere of rage like a storm. Adam drags strife down on his own head.

Author Linda Castillo has done a powerful job of putting us inside Elizabeth and Adam. As the plot twists through their coiled pasts, we wear their bodies. We feel their revulsion, the fear shaking through their veins, the agony of injury. Their desire for each other trembles, then burns, then implodes, and no flight from each other can be acceptable, to us or to them. THE SHADOW SIDE will make thunder rumble along your nerves; surviving it will leave you limp with relief.

 

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