Pursued by Shadows: An Inspection John Sanders/Harriet Jeffries Mystery
Scribner, 1992 (1992)
Reviewed by Theresa Ichino
nspector John Sanders of the Toronto police is none too pleased that Harriet Jeffries is embroiled in her erstwhile assistant's messy problem. However, Harriet is too soft-hearted to ignore Jane Sinclair's call for help. In any case, just by virtue of knowing Jane, Harriet finds herself targeted by Jane's enemies. One unpleasant visitor, Guy Beaumont, is known to Harriet. Once Harriet's lover and now Jane's abusive husband, Guy refuses to believe that Harriet has no idea where Jane is, or - obviously more important to Beaumont - where his stolen document is. He is interrupted in his attack on Harriet by John.
fter a terrible row with her husband in London, Jane took from him a valuable old document in lieu of the child support she is sure he will never provide. The document is apparently a map used by Columbus to reach the West Indies. If authentic, it is priceless. Stubbornly intent on securing some funds for her child, unaware of the true value of the map, Jane attempts to elude her pursuers while finding a dealer to buy it. The unscrupulous people behind Beaumont will stop at nothing. A dealer is murdered in London, Jane narrowly escapes a knife-wielding thug, and Beaumont himself is murdered in Harriet's apartment. Despite his desire to keep himself and Harriet clear of Jane's mess, John Sanders is drawn in, especially since he is a suspect after his violent encounter with Beaumont.
his is mostly Jane's story, as the reader follows her efforts to escape her pursuers. I found it hard to feel sympathy for Jane throughout most of the novel. She entangles too many innocent bystanders in her dangerous game, including her own sister (who barely escapes with her life), and all because she is too stubborn to give up the map. She inspires great loyalty from even chance-met acquaintances (which also irritated me since she seems to do little to deserve such loyalty). Jane does redeem herself at the end, showing concern for her family and her friends, and she is truly devoted to her daughter.
arriet and John are an attractive pair, their relationship a humanizing element throughout the novel. John's forced leave from duties (thanks to his status as suspect) puts him at Harriet's disposal, which is fortunate, as the danger, especially Jane, is extreme. The twists and turns of the case are gripping. Sale has written a fast-paced chase after an intriguing treasure with a slippery heroine (Jane) whose courage and persistence are admirable. The author does a good job in creating characters; even the minor ones are well drawn. The ending too is satisfactory. One feels that all the players have earned some '
' after their travails.
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