In the Shadow of Evil was the first Robin Caroll novel I’ve read. It was an entertaining romantic suspense, set in small-town Louisiana.
Layla Taylor owns her own contracting company and has always had to fight to prove herself in a male-dominated business. When a Homes of Hope home is mysteriously burned to the ground, and worse, the body of a property inspector turns up in the ashes, Layla, her sister, and her company are in danger of being implicated. Maddox Bishop is a hardened homicide detective assigned to the case. He gradually uncovers a tangled web of unethical practices and suppliers, but of course he and Layla’s relationship begins to turn into something more personal. At the same time, he struggles with his own rocky relationship with his father and unresolved guilt over his mother’s murder years before. Layla struggles with her own inability to forgive her mother for her past mistreatment.
It was a well-written story that kept me interested. The mystery was well-done…the outcome wasn’t trite or predictable, and there was a very interesting twist at the end that really caught me by surprise! I thought the main characters were well-developed and likable. I especially liked Houston, Maddox’s partner. He was a typical crusty old codger of a detective with a soft heart hiding beneath his gruff exterior. The resolution of both Layla’s relationship with her mother and Maddox’s with his father were touching and authentic, but I found the other spiritual aspects of the story a bit flat for some reason. Both Maddox’s struggle with God and Layla’s established faith struck me as a bit shallow and lacking depth for some reason. The spiritual aspect just wasn’t woven into the fabric of the story as well as it could have been. It just didn’t seem like an integral part…it could have been removed without really affecting the main storyline negatively.
Still, I found In the Shadow of Evil an entertaining, pleasurable read. The main plot was interesting and unpredictable…it kept me guessing. While not profoundly spiritually moving, it was an enjoyable book. I wouldn’t mind reading more by Ms. Caroll in the future. If you enjoy good, clean, romantic suspense that you can’t solve in the first couple of chapters, you’ll probably enjoy In the Shadow of Evil!