If I’m being completely honest, the majority of the time that I read a mafia book, there was romance and a lot of smut. That wasn’t the case with Shelly Frome’s Shadow of the Gypsy, a suspenseful novel in which the reader must work exceedingly hard to piece together the past of a character.
Sincerity be damned, I’m not sure if I liked this book or not. Even now, after reading the book, I still struggle. Even though I liked the most of the characters and the plot, I’m not sure whether I really relished the reading time. Shelly Frome doesn’t have a writing style that flows well. Instead, it is full of pauses and starts as well as numerous references (speeches, scenarios, etc.) that require attentive attention because they are relevant much later on in the novel.
Having said that, this book and its author most likely manage several POVs exceptionally well. Either Josh’s or Zharko’s point of view dominates the majority of the novel. I adore taking Zharko’s perspective. You ask why? because Zharko struggles with her English. He speaks in the kind of broken English that is generally associated with immigrants who have laboriously learned to speak and understand a language that is not simple to do. And his viewpoints make it so plainly apparent.
You don’t have to be concerned that you won’t notice if the point of view changes. Many of Zharko’s portions are written in that sloppy, illegible broken English. And even though typically this would enrage me greatly—I detest it when authors do it—Shelley gave a justification for it. Even if his ideas were a little shaky, Zharko “thought” in the language since he was so desperate to master it. I absolutely adored it.
And while I adored Zharko, I was ambivalent about Josh. I liked how Josh’s entire demeanour revolved around attempting to keep his entire life hidden. Due to his past and what had occurred, he wanted to remain anonymous and under the radar, but man, did I despise him. It probably doesn’t help that I frequently read books with villains who are ethically dubious but who I end up enjoying, so it’s not a stretch to say that I favour the antagonist.
I want to talk about Molly since we are discussing characters that I am not very fond of. Josh’s romantic interest and the person he has been trying his hardest to get back is Molly. And even though she is in perfect health, I secretly wish she didn’t exist. She seemed to be there solely to offer Josh a taste of the normalcy he was deprived of as a child. He didn’t stop to think about whether he would have been a suitable fit for her because he was so eager to begin his life with her. (He would not have been, in fact.)
Overall: This book had a weird writing style that I’m still not sure I like, but it was interesting nonetheless. Although Shelly does a fantastic job of depicting intricate and engaging villains, it seems that she did not apply the same skill to the hero, who came out as quite bland and uninteresting. The overall plot of trying to take over another mafia was not original, but it was effective for the book so I do understand that as well.
About The Book
Josh Bartlett had figured all the angles, changed his name, holed up as a small-town features writer in the seclusion of the Blue Ridge. Only a few weeks more and he’d begin anew, return to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut and Molly (if she’d have him) and, at long last, live a normal life.
After all, it was a matter of record that Zharko had been deported well over a year ago. The shadowy form John had glimpsed yesterday at the lake was only that — a hazy shadow under the eaves of the activities building. It stood to reason his old nemesis was still ensconced overseas in Bucharest or thereabouts well out of the way.
And no matter where he was, he wouldn’t travel south over eight hundred miles to track Josh down. Surely that couldn’t be, not now, not after all this.
Shadow of the Gypsy
Shadow of the Gypsy by Shelly Frome reeled me in from the start. The first chapters are suspenseful and I was eager to know what was going on and who Josh really was. The whole plot is well-paced, filled with mystery and a dash of romance. I liked the author's writing style, I liked the twists and I absolutely loved the characters. I recommend the book to lovers of the genre.
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