by Bruce TierneyDecember, 2003
Murder in the Adirondacks
In his critically acclaimed 2000 novel Suspension, author Richard Edward Crabbe detailed the post-Civil War terrorist plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. Three years later, Crabbe treats us to his second historical novel, The Empire of Shadows, a Byzantine tale of love and murder in 1889 America. While vacationing with his family at an Adirondack hotel, New York Detective Bureau Chief Tom Braddock comes face to face with death: a young and attractive hotel maid has been killed, and Tom's son is the prime suspect. Meanwhile, a convicted murderer, a Mohawk Indian, has escaped from New York City, and was last seen headed toward the Adirondack wilderness. Braddock knows in his heart of hearts that this is the man responsible for the murder, and he sets off in search of the escapee. It proves to be a difficult chase, since the Indian has experience with the land that few city dwellers can match. As is the case in the best mysteries, all is not as it seems the clues point in one direction, but nagging doubts as to the manipulations of the people behind the scenes arise in the mind of the detective (and the reader). The details of 1880s America ring true, evidence of extensive research on the part of the author; the plotting is solid and the suspense palpable. All in all, an excellent sophomore effort from a fine contemporary writer.