Among the Shadows: A Detective Bryon Mystery by Bruce Robert Coffin is the first book in a police procedural series. Set in Portland, Maine, and the surrounding area, it features Detective Sergeant John Bryon and his team of detectives. Internal politics and rivalries play a role in this complicated police procedural where former officers are dying a variety of ways.

Detective Sergeant John Byron is your classic hard-working detective who drinks a lot, has a failing marriage, can’t get along with the bosses, and has a slowly building attraction to his female partner. He is also a very good detective and does not know how to back off in his search for the truth.


He is called out in this far too warm September morning to the house of Mr. James O’Halloran. At least he is missing the weekly time wasting CompStat meeting that does nothing to suppress crime, but does give the bosses an illusion that they are doing something and practicing effective leadership while chewing out those under them. Mr. James O’Halloran was under hospice care thanks to terminal bone and lung cancer, so his death is not a surprise. However, as the body is examined in place in the home, it quickly becomes clear that this was no suicide or natural caused death. Somebody decided to speed up the process by forcefully applying a pillow over his face and suffocating him. His current nurse is on the short list of possible suspects, but nobody seems to be likely including her and she found the body.


Then a second retired former officer is also killed, and Detective Sergeant John Bryon realizes that something far more sinister is going on. Something that may also link back to his own father’s time on the job decades ago and sudden death.

This is a classic police procedural that uses many of the tropes familiar to readers and yet manages to twist them in ways that create a highly entertaining read. Politics and rivalries serve as the backdrop to an increasingly violent murder investigation that puts Bryon as well as many members of his detective team at substantial risk. A solidly good read well worth your time Among the Shadows: A Detective Bryon Mystery by Bruce Robert Coffin is recommended.


My reading copy came by way of the Skillman Southwestern Branch of the Dallas Public Library System. The second book in the series, Beneath the Depths, is now on my hold list.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2020

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