Review - Land of Careful Shadows by Suzanne Chazin

Land of Careful Shadows by Suzanne Chazin
Narrated by Armando Durán
 Series: Jimmy Vega #1
Publisher: Kensington / Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
Date Read: November 6, 2019
Length: 352 pages / 11 hours and 11 minutes
Source: NetGalley / Library
A body is found in a reservoir fifty miles north of New York City. The victim is young, female and Hispanic. In her purse, the police find a photograph of a baby they believe is her daughter--a little girl they can't identify. Or find. Where is the child? Is she still alive? And what is the meaning behind the disturbing note in the woman's bag? "Go back to your country. You don't belong here."

Arriving at the scene is homicide detective Jimmy Vega, who spent the better part of his childhood in the area and still carries the scars. A Latino himself, Vega knows all too well how hard it can be for an outsider to fit into a close-knit place like Lake Holly. Even now, as a respected officer of the law, he has to watch his step in an investigation simmering with ethnic animosities and steeped in local gossip. Both challenged and intrigued by Adele Figueroa--a passionate defender of immigrants' rights who reminds him uncomfortably of his own family's struggles--Vega must rethink everything he believes to uncover long-buried truths about his community, his loved ones . . . and himself.

Filled with drama, mystery and raw emotions, Land of Careful Shadows shines a nuanced and timely light on a small town's darkest secrets and deepest obsessions. It is not only a tour de force of literary suspense, but an intimate journey into the human heart.
My Review

I thought that this was a really well-done detective story.  This is one of those books that I have had no my tbr forever but kept skipping over it for one reason or another.  I am glad that I finally dusted it off and gave it a try.  I liked this book from that very start and found that I felt invested in the mystery.  I had a great time with this book.

Jimmy Vega is a detective in New York state.  He is called to the scene when the body of an undocumented female is found.  Jimmy is a Latino and he realizes very quickly that the small town that he is working in may not give equal treatment to everyone.  There is a large immigrant population in Lake Holly with many being undocumented.  Not only does Jimmy want to learn how the woman died, but he is also trying to find out what happened to the child in the photograph that she had with her.

I liked Jimmy right away.  He was a smart cop and because of his heritage, he was able to see both sides of the case a little clearer than some of his co-workers.  He was determined to get answers about the woman's death and make sure the child was safe.  He also wasn't afraid to question how things have been done in town and worked to right as many wrongs as he could.  He had a few more personal matters to deal with in this story which made him seem a little easier to relate to.  He doesn't do everything perfectly in this story but he works to learn from his mistakes and I always felt like he was trying to do what was right.

I loved the way the author was able to incorporate the lives of undocumented workers in this story.  I found that the way she painted the picture of what their lives were like both in this country and at home was really powerful.  I thought that the motivation of the characters to risk so much to come to the states for a chance to work felt very authentic.  I really liked the way that we really were able to see both sides of this story.

Armando Durán was the perfect narrator for this story.  There was quite a bit of Spanish sprinkled throughout the book and I thought that he made everything flow very well.  Don't worry, you don't need to know how to speak Spanish to enjoy this book (I don't) but I thought the fact that the narrator made those passages sound natural was a big plus.  I thought that he handled all of the character voices very well and was able to add a lot of excitement to the story.  I wouldn't hesitate to listen to his work again.

I would recommend this book to fans of detective stories.  I thought that this was a nicely plotted, complex mystery with really fantastic characters.  I would not hesitate to read more of the Jimmy Vega series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.
About the Author

Suzanne Chazin won widespread acclaim for the Jimmy Vega series, including Land of Careful Shadows, A Blossom of Bright Light, and No Witness But the Moon. She is also the author of the Georgia Skeehan mystery series, including The Fourth Angel, Flashover, and Fireplay. She has twice been the recipient of the Washington Irving Book Award for fiction. Her fiction, essays, and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, as well as the award-winning short story anthology, Bronx Noir.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


  1. That's a really cool cover! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  2. i love that cover and a good mystery.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  3. A fab lead detective character and an issue with a balanced view and well-researched background sounds great for a contemporary mystery.

  4. It looks like a good new series like that!

  5. The mystery sure sounds like a good one and I like that it had a subject relevant to our time too. Great review.

  6. Sounds good! And that the narrator managed the Spanish well too!

  7. Well I love mysteries and police procedurals. The topic seems very timely too. Excellent review!

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  8. The beautiful cover caught my eye and I like the sound of this novel too. Sensitive and accurate inclusion of social issues in genres such as a crime novel is a big plus for me

  9. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I just saw when it was released and you mentioned getting it from Net Galley, and immediately thought about all the books I have in there that I've yet to give a feedback on. Sigh. Lol.
    I definitely love that the author painted an accurate picture on the lives of undocumented immigrants. That's quite a hot topic in the States right now.


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