Featured: Shadow Sleeper

Featured: Shadow Sleeper Purchase:

Review: A sweeping, winding, twisting story filled with drama, mystery and intrigue – had me gripping my iPad very tightly at times.

During 1960, Rupert Highsmith, lover of Ena’s associate Artie Mallory, receives anonymous letters and compromising photographs taken twenty four years earlier in Berlin.

While researching the parentage of a young woman claiming to be the daughter of Ena’s friend, Priscilla Galbraith, Highsmith is almost killed in a hit and run.

The investigation takes Ena to Shetland where she learns that the would-be assassin of Highsmith (and PM Stanley Baldwin in 1936) is dead.

Who wants to kill Rupert Highsmith, and more importantly, why?

Who took the compromising photographs in 1936?

And is the girl who says she’s Priscilla’s daughter the child that was stolen nineteen years ago?

Madalyn Morgan

Meet Madalyn Morgan;

Madalyn Morgan was an actress for more than thirty years working in repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.

Madalyn was brought up in a busy working-class pub in the market town of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. She was Christened Madalyn Smith, the name she chose when she joined the actors union, Equity. Unfortunately, there was already an actress with that name, so with seconds to decide on another name Madalyn chose Morgan from a rum bottle. “The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many characters to study and accents learn.” At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at East 15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

In 1990, Madalyn gave up acting for love and love gave her up in 2000. Rather than start again in the acting business, Madalyn became a radio presenter, taught herself to touch type, completed a two-year creative writing course with The Writer’s Bureau, and wrote articles for newspapers and magazines. After living in London for thirty-six years she has returned to Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write. And she is loving it.

You can find Madalyn Morgan’s Blog at https://madalynmorgan.wordpress.com/

Review by Welsh Annie:

One thing that I really enjoyed about the last book in this lovely series – Old Cases, New Colours – was that its storylines moved away a little from the world of international espionage and focused instead on a clutch of cases handled by Ena Dudley’s new private investigation agency. And, after an unsettling incident at the start, this book begins in a similar vein as she sets about bravely tackling a protection racket impacting the friend who runs the local cafe.

But after celebrating another successful outcome, her assistant Artie and his partner Rupert are targeted by a hit and run driver – coming in the wake of receiving compromising photographs from his past life as an operative in Berlin, it’s apparent that it wasn’t a random event, and Rupert is hospitalised with life-threatening injuries.

The investigation that follows sees Ena re-entering the world she’d hoped to leave behind, of spies and sleepers, handlers and double agents, and sees her travelling to Shetland to delve into the secrets of the past, uncovering a web of intrigue stretching from the time of the 1936 Olympics and a plot to assassinate Stanley Baldwin into life in the 1960s.

And as that story unfolds, Ena also has another case to handle – she’s called on by her friend Charles Galbraith to investigate a young woman claiming to be his wife Priscilla’s daughter, cruelly taken from her nineteen years ago.

I’ll readily admit that the intricacies of the world of post-war espionage are many miles away from my usual reading, but the author is a wonderful storyteller and I found the story that emerged entirely gripping – often on the edge of my seat, it was a world I was more than happy to engage with, drawn in by Ena’s personality and frequent disregard for convention, bending the rules shamelessly when the need arose, getting ever closer to uncovering the truth and uncovering the would-be assassin.

Although a touch less high octane in the thriller stakes, the whole story about Priscilla Galbraith’s daughter was quite fascinating too – no DNA testing in those days, so proving her claim had more to do with checking out a resemblance and establishing the veracity of her background story with a nice bit of contemporary sleuthing.

Ena and Artie themselves would be enough to make me love this series – they’re wonderfully drawn characters, and their unconventional approach to their investigations is tremendously engaging – but I’m also really impressed by the way the author creates her 1960s setting.

With an acute eye for detail, she makes you feel part of both the scene and the era – driving around the streets of London in Ena’s Sunbeam Rapier (and it seems Rupert might have been run down by a Ford Zephyr – isn’t that just so right?), the music and fashions, the cafes and restaurants and the food they eat – transporting you effortlessly into a familiar world but one of her own creation.

And I was almost surprised how deeply involved I became in the central storyline – it does take a bit of concentration to keep up with all the unexpected twists and turns, and I’m not entirely sure whether some of its subtleties might have gone over my head, but as the resolution approached I was firmly in its grip and rooting for a successful outcome to Ena’s investigation.

This won’t be a book for everyone, but I thought it was thoroughly excellent. It might be that part of the appeal of this book for me was that it was so far removed from the books I usually read, a breath of fresh air and something entirely different – but I’m incredibly impressed by the author’s skill in telling a complicated story, making it entertaining, and keeping me enthralled by it from beginning to end. Very much recommended – and I do hope I’ll have the opportunity to join Ena and Artie again on their next set of investigations…

Please click HERE to find Shadow Sleeper on Amazon.