Ghosts and Shadows – Entered in 2017 Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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H. Max Hiller

Ghosts and Shadows is the third installment of H. Max Hiller’s series about the adventurous Detective Cooter “Cadillac” Holland. An Iraq war veteran now working for the New Orleans Police Department, Detective Holland has seen his fair share of crime. Now, he’s suddenly caught in a whirlwind of mysterious cases that may end up threatening all that he holds dear. Using his trademark combination of unique work experience, bold intuition, and snarky wit, Detective Holland must do everything in his power to rid New Orleans of the seedy criminals running rampant through its streets.

At times, Ghosts and Shadows tended to be a bit slow and tedious. Especially in the beginning, much of the narrative revolved around explaining Detective Holland’s extensive professional background and web of connections. While these bits of exposition were certainly interesting in their own way, it felt a lot like one long “Previously on…” segment. A more subtle presentation of these factors would have made for a more immediately engaging novel. 

Aside from that, Ghosts and Shadows was a truly enjoyable book. It functions well enough as a standalone, too; the lengthy exposition certainly ensures that new readers can get on board quickly without having read the other books in the series. The plot itself was unique and fresh, which serves it well. Also, H. Max Hiller’s use of witty social commentary was especially fascinating, especially in Detective Holland’s comparison between post-Katrina New Orleans and a war-torn Baghdad. All in all, Ghosts and Shadows was a great read; it combines a profoundly different narrative with the page-turning, immersive mystery and action that die-hard fans of detective novels know and love.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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