Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Those Who Walk in Darkness by Joyce and Jim Lavene - #review #characterguestpost #giveaway

Three years ago, Julia Jackson was a well to do young woman from Boston whose fiancé, Jonathon, was killed right before her eyes. Obsessed with finding the killer, a man whose face she saw only in a flash as he walked up and shot Jonathon, she leaves her family and her life behind. She starts a new life as ‘Jacks’ Jackson—a cigar smoking, dead eye, female Pinkerton agent…pretending to be a man.

Now Allan Pinkerton needs Jacks to find the man who kidnapped the wife and son of a railroad official, David Boyd. Their only clues are the severed finger from the man’s wife, complete with wedding ring, and a map of the Qualla boundary, the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina.

Jacks doesn’t like the way the whole thing sounds from the beginning. David Boyd isn’t important enough to target for a kidnapping. And why travel so far with two hostages?

But Pinkerton tells her that he believes the man responsible for the kidnapping worked with Jonathon’s murderer in a train robbery five years ago. Jacks agrees to go after the kidnapper with hopes of catching him before he can reach his home grounds.

Pinkerton insists that Jacks bring three men with her—Boyd, her new partner, and a Cherokee guide named Running Wolf, who’s always watching her, like he’s trying to figure it out.

Can Jacks catch the kidnapper with her secret—and her life—intact?



I found the tenor of Those Who Walk in Darkness to be quite a bit different from the other Lavene books which I have read - and it is every bit as good.  Team Lavene has the Midas touch for fiction!

Most of the Lavenes' series have a supernatural element to it:  witches in "The Retired Witches Mysteries", zombies in "Taxi For the Dead Paranormal Mysteries", and a blue ghost in "The Renaissance Faire Mysteries".  This book is no different.  And, like the earlier books, Those Who Walk in Darkness seems quite possible - even in this 'real world' in which we live.

Of course, here we spend some of the time on the Qualla boundary, the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina.  And Running Wolf is a healer who has taken a vow never to take a human life.  He has guessed Jacks/Julia's secret, but, honorably, feels it is hers to share or not.  He and Julia have a strong bond or connection, but for several reasons they cannot just jump into one another's arms.  He calls her Raven, after the raven that seems to be following her on the trail...that only she can see.  And sometimes, when she sees him from a certain distance, and goes to investigate, only wolf tracks can be found.

Those Who Walk in Darkness held my interest from beginning to end.  Julia grows over the course of the book, going from a woman (hiding out as a man) you-know-what-bent on avenging her fiance's death, to someone who realizes killing is not necessarily the first course of action.  Oh, and the bonus is, her heart, which was pretty much dead after her fiance died in her arms on the way to the wedding, is starting to beat once more.

My heart just about cried at the end and I can only hope this book will turn into a series.



Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.



Please join me in welcoming Julia Jacks Jackson to the blog today to tell us a little about herself himself.  Many thanks to Jeni Chappelle for bringing Jacks to us today!

Life as a Woman in a Man’s World
I’m not the woman I used to be. Unlike the costumed balls of my younger days, my life now is no masquerade. Nothing less than complete immersion in my life as Jacks Jackson will allow me to get my revenge for Jonathon’s murder. I can’t afford to be anything less than hard-as-nails. I must be a man, a detective and sharp-shooter. I must always be Jacks.
            It’s not that there aren’t women doing detective work. Allan Pinkerton is more than willing to have a woman in the field. Even the NYPD hires female detectives now.
            But women can’t get into all the places male detectives can and don’t get the same level of respect. I need that respect and the power it accords to find my fiancé’s killer.
            So the lie goes deeper than a lie. The mask is no longer a mask. My family most likely believes I’m dead, abducted and killed by some criminal element. It’s better to be thought of as deceased than for my parents to know I’m living as a gunslinger in the rural wilderness. No one can come looking for me. No one can know Julia still exists.
            With the exception of Lil Stockton: Lil knows my secret. She recognized me as Jacks in the early days of my career with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Time with Lil allows me a few precious moments where I can enjoy the luxuries of a hot bath, a warm bed, and a sympathetic ear. Everyone believes we’re lovers, and we let them—another layer of the façade that is Jacks Jackson.
            Of course, Allan Pinkerton knows too. He’s a shrewd businessman who cares more about results than any petty notions of gender. I’m his best performing agent, and my natural talent and training with firearms makes me a force to be reckoned with.
            But Pinkerton uses his knowledge of the criminal underworld to string me along. I know he does it, and I let him.
            Having to be Jacks requires every minute of every day. Julia’s anguish transformed me into another person: a hardened man driven towards justice.
            The days of languishing debutante are over, but is it true that Julia is really dead? Is Jacks all that will be left when I kill the man who destroyed my life? Or will any part of me even make it out alive?



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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the authors and publishers in exchange for my objective review.)


  1. Great review, hope it's not too sad.

  2. I like the nineteenth century setting and Native American touches in this book. Fun!

  3. Marvelous book! I am such a fan and look forward to every book.

  4. This book is wonderfully crafted. Growing up in Chicago there is a lot of Pinkerton history. servedogmom@yahoo.com

  5. I loved this one. It really is different from their cozies and so well done. Joyce would be thrilled at the response this story is getting. Sorry I skipped past your review, as mine isn't written yet. I did see that you liked it too.

  6. I'd like to try this book that is in a little different style than other Lavene books. I like the Pinkerton tie in.

  7. Sounds like another great read from the Lavene's. Looking forward to reading.

  8. Sounds like something different from them. I like that it's a historical mystery.

  9. I have never been disappointed by a Lavene book

  10. Thank you for stopping by and listening to the rants of Julia. She's a sweetie but look our for her bad side.