June/July 1998

Shadow Image

Martin J. Smith
Jove, 1998 384pp
ISBN: 0-515-12286-6

review by Harriet Klausner

In Pittsburgh, the police are investigating the apparent unsuccessful suicide attempt by an Alzheimer's patient, Floss Underhill, a member of a prominent family. Because of physical evidence and an eye witness statement, law enforcement officials are looking into possible foul play by Floss' husband and primary caretaker, former Governor Vincent Underhill. The family hires highly regarded defense attorney Brenna Christensen to provide them legal protection, advice, and a defense, if necessary.

Brenna's spouse is psychiatrist, Dr. Jim Christian, who is studying communication with Alzheimer patients through drawings. Floss has been one of his subjects. Apparently, Floss enjoys painting horses, but strange things seem to be happening to her products. As dirty politics seem to permeate every move, Jim and Brenna work closely together to insure that the Underhills have the best legal (and medical) defense possible eventhough the team has private doubts about what is actually the truth.

Shadow Image is a great mixing of elements from the legal thriller with that from medical novels (a la Cook), a blend that makes this work one of the best books of the year. The characters are all top rate with their motives very obvious, especially the lead protagonists and the Underhills. However, it is the premise of the story line that our legal system is built around the faulty memories of the victims that is brilliantly portrayed. This reviewer strongly recommends this novel and its Smith's previous work, Time Release, for some mind-boggling stories.

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