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REVIEW: Shadows of the Past, by Matt Doyle

Shadows of the Past - Matt Doyle

Title: Shadows of the Past

Series: The Cassie Tam Files Book Four

Author: Matt Doyle

Genre: Sci Fi, Mystery

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian

Publisher: NineStar Press

Pages: 205

Reviewer: Amy

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About The Book

Shadows of the Past is the new novella collection set in The Cassie Tam Files universe! Enjoy two new stories that follow PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori Redwood as they deal with the fallout from LV48. This book is part of a series and needs to be read in sequence.

A Week in New Hopeland
When Lori Redwood agrees to help out her girlfriend, PI Cassie Tam, by going undercover at a local shipping firm, she gets more than she bargained for. Her ‘boss’ Mr. Graves is a misogynist and a bully, and has been targeting one girl in particular. Cassie is known to him, and he tends to be cautious around Tech Shifters. Which means that Lori may be the best person for the job.

Will Lori be able to help Cassie gather enough evidence for the police to act, or will she become the next target?

Shadows of the Past
PI Cassie Tam is not the only person who lives with regrets, and like most people, she just wants to get on with her life. But in New Hopeland, the past never remains buried. When she’s hired to track a stalker that’s been using some interesting tech to mask their identity on the city’s security cameras, Cassie ends up face-to-face with her darkest memory.

Can Cassie find out who’s responsible before her past mistakes tear her – and her friends – apart?

The Review

I love Cassie Tam, and I was thrilled to see a new one. It’s a terrific pairing of two separate stories, both of which hit the spot.

First, we get a real treat with a story from Lori’s perspective. Heed the warnings on this one. It’s especially relevant with workplace bullying and harassment continually in the news. Lori proves again just how brave she is. And then she delights us with a reminder that she’s also thoughtful and kind. We get the fast-paced action of taking down the baddie, and then we get the quiet tenderness of Lori and Cassie having a pretty ordinary moment afterward. I’d say this shorter story feels like it’s written for fans, purely to entertain us. And I’m absolutely cool with that.

The second part of the book is the longer and more complex story. I would say it’s necessary to have read at least one previous book to enjoy the first story, or else the tech and relationships won’t make sense. But to enjoy the second one, yes, it’s necessary to have read the series. There’s an ongoing arc, so beware of reading out of sequence.

The nice part about it is that the author doesn’t waste time re-explaining things. It’s just assumed that we’ll have read the books and know what’s what. I appreciate that because even if it’s a while between books, or between my reading of them, I don’t want everything re-built for me. Cassie’s world is detailed and fascinating, and each dive takes us deeper.

It’s a mystery, so of course, I don’t want to spoil anything. But this is definitely where it’s vital to have a good grasp of the running plot and some of the side elements so far. And because it is a mystery, those details matter more than otherwise. That said, I love how things came together.

There’s a lot to praise here. The storytelling is excellent. I think each installment has gotten better. The world building and the way we’re led further in is wonderful. And in the middle of it all, Cassie and Lori’s relationship is refreshingly ordinary, despite their extraordinary circumstances.

For a combination of great storytelling and great world building, a dynamic duo of awesome women, and ultimately a pair of terrific novellas, this gets top marks.

The Reviewer

Amy is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Their published fiction includes several novels, novellas, and shorter works. They are an occasional host for the Bi+(plus) podcast as well as doing bi+ advocacy work and curating the best-of bi list on the QueerBooksForTeens website. In their pre-kid life, they were a registered nurse and health educator. Now they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, books, chronic illness, and their family. In between all that, they play violin with a community orchestra, and their son convinced them to stay in shape by learning Irish dance.

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