Title: Chasing Shadows
Author: Annabelle Jacobs
Pages/Word Count: 162 Pages
At a Glance: Chasing Shadows adds another tick to this author’s “Win” column.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Jamie Matthews goes to Cornwall to find his missing brother. The police are convinced Michael drowned, but Jamie knows better. No way would Michael swim to his death, especially on a beach with a wicked rip tide. Finding a stranger in his brother’s cottage only deepens his misgivings.
Felix Bergstrom is recently discharged from the British Army. Unable to put the past behind him, he takes an unhealthy interest in old acquaintance and millionaire businessman Karl Weston, hoping to catch him up to no good. Michael’s disappearance adds fuel to Felix’s suspicions. Weston’s clifftop home overlooks the beach where Michael supposedly walked into the sea, but Weston has an alibi for that day.
When Jamie and Felix meet, the physical attraction is instant. Mistrust keeps them from acting on it until finally all their secrets are laid bare. But time isn’t on their side. Before they’re able to work out whether they have a future, danger catches up with them and threatens to put an end to everything.
Review: Author Annabelle Jacobs imagines what may be one of the most horrific crises any family could face in Chasing Shadows, the story of one man’s search for answers in the mysterious disappearance of his brother.
Jamie Matthews’ brother Michael is missing, presumed dead. The artist was renting a cottage in Cornwall at the time of his disappearance, determined by police to be the victim of an accidental drowning after wading into the ocean where he’d been sketching at the time. With no clues, no signs of foul play, or eye witnesses, it’s the only logical solution the authorities could come up with to explain why they’d found his belongings on the secluded stretch of beach. But with no body, there’s no closure, and Jamie’s having a difficult time believing, let alone accepting, that Michael is gone. Jacobs captures all the doubt and conflict and grief and, yes, even the anger that’s so close to the surface for Jamie throughout the story, and, by virtue of my own commiseration, I was right there with him and his parents in being able to empathize with what they were going through. I loved being able to make that emotional connection with both their loss and Jamie’s denial, which kept me invested in discovering how it would all resolve itself.
When Jamie meets Felix Bergstrom for the first time, it’s not love at first sight. It’s not even love at second sight, although there are some lingering looks and appreciative glances thrown at each other’s obvious assets. The problem is that Felix doesn’t do much at the beginning to inspire Jamie’s trust—or ours, for that matter—beginning with the fact that he was caught red-handed snooping around Michael’s cottage when Jamie first arrived. But Felix has issues of his own he’s trying to work through, all of which revolve around the elusive Karl Weston and Felix’s near-obsessive suspicion that Weston is a criminal at best, a murderer at worst. Felix and Weston have a shared past, one we learn just enough about along the way that gives credence to those suspicions.
As Chasing Shadows unfolds, we get not only a mystery wrapped in unresolved questions and a family’s grief and the inability for them to find closure, but we also get a budding romance amidst the built-in drama of Jamie finally beginning to accept that Michael isn’t coming back. I liked Jamie and Felix together, bought into what was growing between them and the almost fatalistic attitude they had toward it, knowing that their relationship was starting on a shaky foundation but being helpless to fight the fact that those deeper feelings were trying to surface. I also liked that these men were both flawed—they made mistakes, said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, which made it so frustrating when Jamie went blundering into danger. Frustrating but such a human mistake—who hasn’t done or said something in the heat of the moment without thinking about the possible consequences? Rounding out my list of likes are a couple of the secondary characters—Nick and Adam—who didn’t play a huge role but added a little normal to the drama in Jamie’s and Felix’s lives, and helped us get to know Felix better.
Annabelle Jacobs wraps this story up with some action and suspense before all’s said and done, in a climactic scene that resolved things in a satisfying way. I honestly would have gone with the flow either way the author had chosen to end this novel, though, so there really wasn’t much of a chance I was going to be disappointed. Something that, when you think about it, doesn’t happen often—not because I didn’t care how everything worked out but because she’d done such a great job of keeping me guessing and open to more than one outcome.
I’ve read quite a bit of this author’s work now, and she has yet to let me down. Chasing Shadows adds another tick to the win column.
You can buy Chasing Shadows here: