Book Review: Grim Shadows by Jenn Bennett

Posted October 10, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Grim Shadows by Jenn BennettGrim Shadows by Jenn Bennett
Genres: History, Paranormal, Romance
Published by Berkley Sensation on June 3, 2014
Pages: 321
Format: eBook
Source: the library


Archaeologist Lowe Magnusson is packing something everyone wants. The djed amulet, a priceless Egyptian artifact, will fetch Lowe a hefty paycheck from one of San Francisco’s wealthiest. But when the handsome Swede runs into his patron’s uptight daughter, what he once considered easy money becomes maddeningly complicated…

Cursed with deadly spirits as her constant companions, curator Hadley Bacall must keep calm to hold her dangerous specters at bay and prevent them from lashing out at anything—or anyone. Trouble is, Lowe is driving her crazy, but her father needs the artifact he’s transporting. While Hadley can feel the amulet’s power, she can’t fathom the destruction—or the desire—it’s about to stir up.

Also by this author: Bitter Spirits, Banishing the Dark, Grave Phantoms

Second in the Roaring Twenties historical paranormal romance series set in San Francisco in 1928 and revolving around the Magnusson family. The couple focus is on Lowe Magnusson and Hadley Bacall.

My Take
This was another fun one. Different from Bitter Spirits, 1, but just as full of action and character, and a fun tour of San Francisco twelve years after the quake as Hadley and Lowe race about, exploring, investigating, lying.

On the whole I like Hadley, but she does annoy me with her insistence that she be treated as though she were a man, and then she gets annoyed when he does. She’s such a prickly, overly sensitive thing.

“If people like me didn’t dig, what would you study?”

Lowe can spin a story like nobody’s business, and he’s tricky with his psychological siege of Hadley. He pays attention and uses what he learns to “assault” her tower. It’s part of what makes him so very interesting to an unwilling but intrigued Hadley. There’s also that family of his. Warm, laughing, hugs. Nothing she’s familiar with.

That’s not the only way in which her father is a jerk. I give him kudos for “allowing” his daughter to get an education and work with him at the museum. But everything is per his own secret agenda. Bacall says many of the right things, but he’s such a hypocrite and a liar! Nor does he seem to care about his daughter at all! He gives gifts of what he loves to others whether they’d like it or not. He collects books but not to read…quelle horreur…although, it turns out that Hadley is a book snob. Lowe does sum it up well towards the end.

That Oliver doesn’t impress me too much either. Putting on his coat while Hadley stands there shivering. Another jerk! And what’s with that “hysterical” comment! Why is it that men always put women down with words like that or “is it that time of the month”? Arghhh! As for Hadley’s mother…what a bitch.

Oliver does serve well as a foil for Lowe. Lowe may be a thief and a liar, but he is considerate, interesting, and quite flirtatious with it. Mmm…bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do… He also understands why Hadley feels so betrayed. And…sigh…he does have his priorities straight.

Winter’s few appearances in this are only to scold Lowe. And he has good reason.

Bennett cracked me up with Lowe’s obsession over Hadley’s backside. It’s such a contrast between what he wants from her father…and what he wants from her besides it being such a contrast for Hadley, lol. She’s wanting and not wanting all at the same time — and so confused with it!

Bennett also comes in with the hook at just the right time. Hmmm, she must know Lowe pretty well, *more laughter*. It intrigued me as well, and then it had the potential to get better for those who enjoy a good puzzle. Except Bennett doesn’t provide enough information to let us work at it. Not that it’s that big of a negative. Most authors don’t provide all the clues, dang it.

Why does Lowe have to ruin the books? Couldn’t he have just slid his knife along an edge?

Lowe’s past comes back to throw a wrench in everything from Hadley’s love to Lowe’s own chances for survival. Hadley’s association with him could ruin her reputation — god knows, it’s already screwed Lowe’s chances. And Hadley is so furious that she seeks out the one source who can tell her the truth, little realizing what it could mean for him.

Um, in what world does Hadley believe they have time to sit down and suss things out?

Due to all the lies, there are mysteries within mysteries. And Bennett keeps it that way even as she reveals bits and pieces — that contradict what’s been said — along the way.

You’ll adore the end…Lowe is still concocting elaborate stories, lol.

The Story
It begins with a battle, a chase, and a running leap for a train leaving the station. The perfect situation for these cohorts in escape to show their true colors. For the thugs are after a mythical artifact Lowe found in Egypt. One purported to open the door to the land of the dead: the Backbone of Osiris, the djed.

The Characters
Lowe Magnusson has been having a ball, sort of. Roaming the world, looting, er, releasing antiquities from the ground in which they’ve been buried for millennia. He’s the most charming born liar and would rather make an illegal dollar than any other. His brother, Winter, is one of the top bootleggers in San Francisco (see Bitter Spirits). Aida is Winter’s very pregnant wife. She’s also a spirit medium who can speak with the dead. Sam is Aida’s brindled mastiff. Astrid is his young sister, and she appears to be caught up in Bo Yeung, a Chinese orphan Winter caught picking his pocket some years back. Now he’s Winter’s righthand man and Astrid’s bodyguard. Greta is the family housekeeper. Lulu is the red Indian motorcycle Lowe prefers. Jonte is the chauffeur.

Dr. Hadley Bacall is Dr. Archibald Bacall‘s assistant and daughter — he is the curator for the Egyptian Antiquities wing of the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Hadley specializes in funerary archeology and has a touch phobia. Mori are the Death specters, the Sheut, the shadows, Hadley inherited from her mother, the deceased Vera. Mrs. Wentworth is her latest maid. Number Four is the cat she doesn’t want. You’ll love how the cat got its name, lol. Noel Irving was Archie’s excavating partner and best friend…and more. Charlotte is Bacall’s housekeeper.

Adam Goldberg has been Lowe’s best friend forever; he’s also a watchmaker. A very talented man with small details. Stella Goldberg is his four-year-old deaf daughter. Miriam is his dead wife, flu. Mrs. Berkovich owns the deli. Velma Toussaint owns the Gris-Gris Club and practices hoodoo. Daniels manages the club. Mrs. Geller will become Stella’s nanny.

The de Young Museum
George Houston is what Hadley calls “her biggest mistake”, and she’s got that right. Miss Tilly is Dr. A. Bacall’s secretary. Stan is Bacall’s assistant and helps guide the blind doctor around. Mr. Hill is a night guard. Director Amir is with the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Oliver Ginn, a.k.a., Moneypants, is a patron of the arts.

Monk Morales is a thug in San Francisco. And he is excessively annoyed with Lowe.

Mr. Walter is the elevator operator in Hadley’s building. Rose and Nunzio Alioto make the best chowder on the wharf. Madame Dubois makes custom lingerie and loves Hadley’s designs. Ruby is an old girlfriend, Lowe claims, who he’ll use as a fallback. Detective Cohen investigates Adam’s murder. The Ackermans own the hardware store next to Adam’s place.

Mrs. Rosewood was a shipping heiress. Mr. Farnsworth is the realtor showing houses. He’s supposed to be showing this one to the Davidsons. Henrietta Trotter was one of Hugo Trotter‘s sisters. Hugo Junior now operates a funeral home in Lawndale (today’s Colma). Mrs. Price had a cousin, a very bad cousin. Samuel Levin is having a party. And he’s Monk’s silent buyer.

The Cover
The cover is heated with its oranges, blues and the half-dressed Lowe holding Hadley in her sheer dress as her Mori writhe around her against a collage of a cable car, desert, and what appears to be a flat-topped hill with ruins.

No kidding, the title is Grim Shadows, only I’m not sure which merits the title more: Hadley’s Mori or the evil that waits in the shadows.

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2 responses to “Book Review: Grim Shadows by Jenn Bennett

    • ladystorm

      It is VERY different. And fun to read about a 1920s San Francisco and its recovery from the quake of ’06, the bootlegging, the clothes…the cars! Bennett does a great job with the mores and manners as well.

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