Shadow CampusI was fortunate to receive a review copy of Shadow Campus by Kathleen Kelley Reardon. It’s a mystery/thriller that takes place on California university campus.

The location is important because much of the book revolves around university politics and everything rings true. It’s obvious Reardon has been a professor, and many of the incidents sound like situations she’s either seen or heard about.

The basic plot is that the main character, Shamus Doherty, is called from Connecticut to California because his sister, a professor at the university, has been in an accident. When he arrives, he learns that the “accident” was actually a suicide attempt. He refuses to believe that his sister could have attempted suicide, and the rest of the book delves deep into campus politics to uncover what really happened.

Shadow Campus is a pleasant, easy read. The story never drags, and the mystery unfolded in some unexpected ways. I’m not sure I’d characterize it as a “thriller,” though. Mystery, yes, but there wasn’t as much action as I would have expected from a thriller.

The nefarious plot wasn’t at all what I expected, considering the locale. (In other words, there’s lots more going on here than tenure battles.) That’s not a criticism. I liked that she went deeper than the obvious. However, the real strength of the story is character development. Every character is well-drawn, and they come to life on the pages. Reardon does an excellent job with one character in particular. You’re going to think he’s the villain of the piece, and his real role is going to come as a surprise. (Unless you’re like my husband, who sees everything coming way before I do.)

I believe this is the author’s first fiction book, but she is previously well-published in non-fiction, so this does not read like a first novel. It’s quite a bit better than that.

I recommend it and give it a solid 4 ereader rating.