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by Jeffrey Round
Dundurn, February 2019
312 pages
ISBN: 1459740602

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

SHADOW PUPPET, the latest Dan Sharp Mystery by Jeffrey Round, seems to have a plot literally ripped from the headlines. In the novel, someone in Toronto is targeting gay men, echoing the real life serial murders that took place there in the winter of 2012/13. Dan Sharp is an investigative detective whose life and livelihood are in the gay ghetto of that city. He is a gay man and his circle of friends reflects the population of the gay community. Sharp becomes involved in searching for a killer when he is asked to find the missing brother of a Muslim family.

Sharp has noticed signs up around the town displaying the face of another missing person. Slowly, through careful investigation, he realizes that the missing men, besides being gay, are all Muslims. He discovers links between the disappeared men that connect them to various venues, like clubs and the YMCA, but most importantly to a pornographic film business, which may or may not be producing films with real violence.

Sharp's life and struggles also add interest and depth to the book. He is raising a son, Ked, from an old encounter with a woman. She is still a friend and has a caring relationship with him and with Ked. Sharp's friends are eager to help him and find the killer, one even going so far as to use himself as a lure to attract the killer. Although the reader senses that all of this work is leading to the perpetrator of the murders, the killer, when he is found out, is a surprise.

For the reader unfamiliar with this series, SHADOW PUPPET is not only a suspenseful mystery, but also provides access to the perhaps not visible everyday lives of ordinary gay folk. It is a window into a world where friendships are valued and people search for lasting relationships and meaningful work—lives like any lives. Although acceptance of gay and lesbian peoples seems to be widespread, there is still much misunderstanding. A number of characters in this book are struggling with families who do not want them to be gay. The Muslim man whom Sharp searches for had been torn between the dictates of his religion—and the strong pull of his family based on Muslim ideas—and his own identity as a gay man.

§ Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, January 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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