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Friday 1 April 2022

‘Shadows of Fury’ by Keith Jacobsen

Published by The Book Guild,
28 March 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-914471-36-0 (PB)

The slow revelation of secrets from the past is a theme which frequently appears in mystery fiction – but it’s not often that the biggest of those secrets is hidden from every character, even from the protagonist him- or herself.  

Madeleine Reed has recently been released from the secure hospital, where she has been confined ever since she was found guilty of the manslaughter of a woman she hardly knew, in a nursing home in Portsmouth. She had been the last visitor before the woman was found dead, despite having no memory whatsoever either of killing her or of the events leading to the incident. Madeleine was charged with murder, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

 Now she has returned to the place it all began: a secluded village on the Cornish coast, where her mother is buried and she herself spent several years caring for Michael, an artist whom she met for the first time at her mother’s funeral. She is anxious to recover her memories, discover if she was indeed guilty of the crime which kept her locked away for several years, and learn why she feels as if she is being pursued by the Furies, ancient mythical figures who seem determined to drag her down into hell.

Madeleine’s story begins slowly, and inevitably with a great many unanswered questions. But her quest for answers soon drew me in until I was as keen to learn the truth as she was. One by one those answers come as little pieces of Madeleine’s memory return. She is helped by Brenda, who runs a small art gallery in the village, Megan, who was Michael’s housekeeper until his death, and later by the mysterious Alan, a tramp who knows more than he should. The unforgiving terrain around the village, where her mother and Michael’s adopted nephew both fell to their deaths, also has a part to play, as does the slightly eerie house she shared with Michael for his last few years.

It seems almost every character in the book, not to mention that implacable landscape, is harbouring secrets, all of which become pieces in the jigsaw Madeleine has to assemble. It comes together as a cohesive picture at the end, but not until preconceptions have been upended and lives changed, and one final, terrible secret from the past is finally unearthed.

Will the Furies loose their hold on Madeleine? Is she indeed a murderer? Or is what really happened that day in Portsmouth yet one more secret to be exposed? You’ll have to read the book to find out – and I strongly recommend that you do exactly that.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Keith Jacobsen was born in Liverpool in 1948. He was educated at St Catherine's College, Oxford. He worked as a private piano teacher after taking early retirement from the civil service in 1999, having been a civil servant for twenty-seven years, moving up through the ranks of what was then known as the administrative class, taking a special interest in international health relations.  He now teaches on a voluntary basis, leading a piano group of his local U3A (University of the third Age).  He is the author of Place of a Skull (Thames River Press, 2013) and Sisters of Fury (Book Guild, 2015).  He now lives in North London with his wife, Valerie, also a senior civil servant.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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