book, Book Review

Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl

About the Book:Book - Gatherine Shadows
Author: Nancy Mehl
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2014
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Series: Finding Sanctuary, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Mystery, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: If the genre of a new-to-me-author is one that appeals, I’m all for the “adventure” of trying that new author. Nancy Mehl is an author who has had a slew of books to her name already, though none of those have found a way onto my reading list. After my mom talked about this one from an ad in the back of another Bethany House book, I happened to get an email about this one and one accidental click of the mouse later and I had this one in my mailbox. That’s my story, the actual novel goes like this. Wynter Evans has built an entire life reimagining herself. She no longer wants to be the teenage girl who lost her brother to a kidnapping that made national headlines, and is now working as a journalist at a station where she rarely has any contact with her stern father – a father who fell apart after his son’s disappearance. Thanks to her curious nature, Wynter happens to spy a photo of a young Mennonite man who resembles her brother and convincing her boss to let her and a photog, Zac do a story on the Mennonite, Wynter sets off for the small town of Sanctuary and its people – including her kindly landlady, Esther and the handsome mayor, Rueben – determined she won’t leave without returning with Ryan.

When you’re used to a certain kind of mystery novel, sometimes adjusting to a new premise is hard. That’s what I found in Gathering Shadows. First off, the prose is first person which is never a favorite (mainly because I rarely, if ever feel connected or as if I can get to know the other characters – and that is especially accurate of this book) and secondly, the premise is much “easier” to read than most in its genre. The first half of the book relies on a years old kidnapping and slowly builds up to the mystery that surrounds a sudden murder. I cannot say that I didn’t like the book because I did it simply took me a while to correct my idea of what the story would be against what it actually was. And as with all books, there were things I liked about this one. First, the interesting relationship between Wynter and Zac is one of the best things; at first, they were definitely more colleagues who didn’t seem to care they were on a story together beyond the fact of each doing their respective jobs. That shifts at some point and leads to a strong, good kind of friendship that all too often a reader will crave in a book. The reason for this is because the romance takes up the better part of the story, as it should do if that is what the book is primarily about.

Those of us who love a good mystery with plenty of romance will feel let down. The boy-girl meet-cute isn’t anything near the same level of chemistry as some of its peers, although I don’t mean this as a gripe (aside from the ending coming across a bit too “neat” or more unrealistic than average) because, seriously, it’s refreshing now and again to read something that puts its heroine’s (or whoever its leading character is) emotional health above jumping into something more than friendship. In this, I think most readers will find that to be a truth. Everything is wrapped up, and we get the answers to the mystery, however as a parting caution, you might not get the same sense of satisfaction with this ending. I didn’t mind it, but if you like to be able to experience the fullest intricacies of the story – in this sense, some of us may not feel like what the entire book was about is totally examined by the end of the story just because time is cut short – then this might not be a book you’ll enjoy. If you like mysteries that aren’t all about reading with the light on (I loved that the danger of this book wasn’t elongated – there was a bad situation that started in one chapter and was over by the beginning of the next), then be sure to look into Gathering Shadows.

Note: my sincere apologies to the publisher and the author for the delay in reviewing this book.

Synopsis: Wynter Evans is a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, but even a bright future doesn’t take away her pain over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. So when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him, she can’t pass up the chance to track him down. With research for work as her cover, she sets out with one of the station’s photogs for the place where the picture was taken: the town of Sanctuary.

Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets the town’s handsome young mayor, Rueben King, and together they begin to uncover long held secrets that could tear the small town apart and change everything Wynter thought she knew about her life. As the truth of her family’s past hides in the shadows, it’s clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she’s searching for hidden forever–even if the cost is Wynter’s very life. – Goodreads

Coming Next from Nancy Mehl: After years of upheaval, Sarah Miller’s life is finally settled with all echoes of the past stilled and silent at last. She spends her time teaching the children of Sanctuary, a town she is happy to call home.

When the sister Sarah hasn’t seen in years reappears, it stirs up hard memories of the past and their parents’ murder. Even so, Sarah’s joy at being reunited with Hannah and meeting the niece she didn’t know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.

As Sarah learns more about Hannah’s death, the circumstances seem eerily similar to her parents’ death. She enlists Paul’s help in digging deeper into these murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul’s concern encourages Sarah’s growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one man will do anything to hide–even if he must do away with the last remaining members of the Miller family. DEADLY ECHOES, February 2015 – Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


2 thoughts on “Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl”

  1. I didn’t post a review of this one but I agree with the 3.5, I would have given it about 3. It just didn’t hook me like I wanted it to.

    1. I agree. It was a “good” read in the sense that it was a more light hearted mystery, but at the same time, I just didn’t feel the same kind of payoff as book usually leave me with.

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