Title: Delia's Shadow
Author: Jaime Lee Moyer
Publication Date: September 2013
Length: 336 pages
Series: Delia Martin (#1)
Reason for Discovery: John Scalzi's Big Idea Post
It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side. Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest. It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again. And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.
Delia is being haunted by a ghost that she has named Shadow. Out of desperation, Delia decides to return home to San Francisco, because Shadow seems to want to go there. With the help of her friend Sadie, Sadie's fiance (and cop) Jack, and Jack's partner Gabe, Delia attempts to discover what is haunting her ghost and solve a series of recent murders at the same time.
Before I talk about this book, we need to talk about this cover. Isn't it gorgeous? I found myself looking at this book cover on a regular basis. My husband also thought the cover was great. His exact words were "It's nice to see a heroine on the cover who doesn't have a loser back tattoo or leather pants." There are lots of heroines in fantasy novels who are awesome and have tramp stamps or leather pants, but it is nice to see a fantasy heroine in what can technically be called urban fantasy book (she is in a city and is a fantasy book) that is fully clothed.
Okay, on to the book. This was a lovely historical mystery with ghosts. The mystery was solid, and a reader who wants to piece the clues together can figure it out. At the same time, the mystery isn't obvious. This is a huge bonus to me. I hate mystery books that are not "traditional mysteries" (aka cozy mysteries or Agatha Christie-type mysteries) that decide not to give the reader enough clues to figure out the mystery. I think mystery stories should have clues for the reader.
This book flip flopped between two POV characters, Delia and Gabe. Although I didn't notice it straightaway, Delia's chapters were written in first person and Gabe's chapters were written in third person. It didn't bother me, but your mileage may vary. I liked Delia and Gabe and the rest of the characters in the book. They really cared about each other, and it felt genuine. These characters felt like ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation. In addition, I liked how the ghost was incorporated into the mystery. Shadow was definitely haunting and a bit scary at times. I found her to be a unique character in a large world of books with ghosts. At the same time, this is not a horror book. I didn't feel scared reading it at night.
My one critique of this book was that everyone believes that Delia sees ghosts. Only a handful of secondary characters quietly questioned Delia's ghosts. This really surprised me. I would have thought that even Delia's close friends would have felt a little uncertain about the situation. Granted, the blind acceptance allows us to skip over the proving ghosts are real situation; however, it just seemed a bit too easy. I would have been okay with the blind acceptance, if there had been a built of world building that suggested that ghosts were a real part of this universe. There was a small suggestion that hinted that in this universe ghosts are real (Delia and the gang hang out with a psychic for a while); however, I needed just a bit more. Maybe in book two, the world building will be strengthened.
Overall, I liked this quiet mystery. The mystery was interesting, there was a little bit of horror and scare, some adventure and thrills, and a touch of romance. It wasn't an action-packed story by any means, but I enjoyed my time with this book. I am a bit disappointed that this story is the first in a series. I thought it was going to be a stand alone book. To be honest, I think I like this book less because it is the start of a series. Is that weird? You can read this book as a stand alone book; there is no cliff hanger. I didn't discover it was the first in a series until after I read the book. I will probably pick up the next book in the series, but I am not going to run out to get it.
I give this book a 3 out of 5.