Howard's latest lacks that touch of humor

Lezlie Patterson / McClatchy-Tribune News Service /

Published Jan 13, 2013 at 04:00AM

“Shadow Woman” by Linda Howard (Ballantine Books, 319 pgs., $27)

Linda Howard just doesn’t write books like she used to.

Some may appreciate her new edgier, out-of-a-comfort-zone style displayed once again in her latest story, “Shadow Woman.”

But many miss the incredible way Howard blended humor with intriguing suspense in books like “Mr. Perfect” and “Open Season.”

Like all of the veteran writer’s books, “Shadow Woman” is well-written with an intriguing plot and captivating characters.

It captures your interest immediately. Unfortunately, it then drags considerably for most of the next 240 pages. Kind of like a really long car chase scene in an action movie; it’s exciting, tense and dramatic, but not terrible interesting.

Speaking of action movies, the plot may remind you of one. (Think former governor of California.) Here’s a brief synopsis with some vague spoilers that won’t ruin any surprises: Lizzy wakes up one morning and realizes she doesn’t recognize her reflection in the mirror. She realizes she can’t remember two years of her life, and feels like she’s two people.

Xavier, and some are-they-good-guys-or-bad-guys types have been monitoring Lizzy — as in really invading her privacy. Why? That takes a while to figure out and is really quite intriguing, and is what keeps you turning the pages .

It’s not until around page 244 that Xavier and Lizzy actually reunite. Before that, they were working alone. The only “romance” was some rather erotic dreams Lizzy had.

For the last 80 pages or so, there’s romance. But first you have to get through that 244-page “chase” scene.

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