Out of the Shadow Review
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Fear is an insidious emotion; it causes us not only to distrust those around us, but also to distrust ourselves. Can we believe the assurances of others that we are safe? How far do we trust our memories when others insist that we’re wrong?

In the opening chapter of Out of the Shadow, Becca Rosen is raped in her bedroom, and her husband is murdered and left to die in their living room. The police can’t find any proof of a break-in, so she becomes the lead suspect for the murder. Becca believes that she’s got a stalker who did it, but she can’t prove it, and each time she tells the police about her convictions, the evidence doesn’t hold up.

As the investigation drags on, those she turns to for support often make things worse: her mother treats her like a child, while friends and family insist that she get on with her life and try to fix her up with new men. On top of all this, she’s being haunted by flashes of memory of a sexual molestation from her childhood by a man whose face she can’t place but whose scent she’ll never forget. She needs someone to believe her.

  
 
Becca decides to seek professional help from Dr. Sarah Abrams, a therapist who specializes in Repressed Memory Syndrome. Yet Dr. Abrams, too, is grappling with love, betrayal, and the possibility of a new relationship on the horizon.

Out of the Shadow is a story within a story…within another story. That level of complexity can be a mess in the hands of an unskilled writer, but author J. S. Winn’s novel is so exquisitely dovetailed that the pieces unfold cleanly and clearly. Winn writes from her own experience as a therapist, and it shows in her deep awareness of Becca’s inner world and her skillful exploration of family and romantic relationships. She’s equally adept at creating the heart-stopping moments that a great crime mystery requires. Topping it off is the Philadelphia setting, which the author has filled with well-known landmarks and film-noir-esque side streets, which will be interesting for any reader but especially for a lover of Philadelphia (as I am).

This is such a terrific page-turner that I lost sleep on the three nights that it took for me to complete it. Since the book is multiple stories in one, there are also several layers of red herrings, but that just hooked me all the more. By the time I was two-thirds of the way through, I couldn’t stand it any longer; I cheated and checked out the ending—and I was blown away.

I hope J. S.Winn writes her second novel very, very soon. Next time, I’ll try hard not to start with the last chapter.

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