In the Shadow of Lies by M. A. Adler is an engaging read with many dimensions. It is a fast-paced and suspenseful mystery. It is a moving portrayal of historical truths that must be recalled, even though they are painful and shameful. It is also a compassionate portrait of people locked in unjust, harmful, and violent relationships based on distorted perceptions and wounds of the mind.
The story is set in and around Richmond, California, during World War II. It is rooted in enough history of the war and region to give a real feel for the cruel irony of people who fled their homelands to escape oppressive regimes, only to meet oppression in America due to their association with the abusive governments they sought to escape.
Adler deftly addresses issues like violence and discrimination based on race and national origin amidst the devastating impact of World War II. Yet, she does so through a story full of love, kindness, and a basic affirmation of human goodness. As a Bay Area native, I found it refreshing to read such authentic details about the story’s setting: green hills turning to gold in early summer, the scent and feel of the fog and eucalyptus, the quality of light, the chill and murkiness of the bay water.
In a few places, I found it difficult to track the characters. Some reminders or more development would be helpful. Overall, though, I found the story readable and easy to track.
I enjoyed this book very much, learned from it, and came away from it with respect for the author, her skill with the pen, her intelligence, and her heart.