Review: Shadows of the Dead by Spencer Kope

Title: Shadows of the Dead by Spencer Kope
Special Tracking Unit Series Book Three
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 378 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


The best tracker in the world, a man with a secret and a special set of skills, must find two nearly untraceable killers before time runs out for their victims, in Spencer Kope’s Shadows of the Dead.

A woman—abducted and found in the trunk of a car after a high-speed chase—regains consciousness in the ICU to reveal two crucial pieces of information: the man who kidnapped her is not the same as the man who left her in the woods, and she’s not the first victim—in fact, she is number eight.

Magnus “Steps” Craig is part of the elite three-man Special Tracking Unit of the FBI. Known for his ability to find and follow trails over any surface, Steps is called in on cases that require his unparalleled skills. But there’s a secret to his talent. Steps has a kind of synesthesia where he can see the ‘essence’ of a person—what he calls ‘shine’—on everything they’ve touched.

Brought in to track the driver through a dense forest after the blood hounds have lost his trail, Steps and his partner Jimmy find the driver laughing maniacally, babbling about souls, and hiding a pristinely maintained box of eight posed rats. Now the Special Tracking Unit must chase two villains—through not just the real world, but the dark web as well—tracking an enemy they can’t see, as time runs out for the unknown victims.


Shadows of the Dead by Spencer Kope is a clever mystery with fantastic characters and a unique premise. Although this latest release is the third mystery in the Special Tracking Unit series, it can be read as a standalone. However, I highly recommend the previous mysteries as well.

Magnus “Steps” Craig and his partner Special Agent Jimmy Donovan’s latest case begins with tracking the driver of an automobile accident through the forest.  He is suspected of kidnapping the woman found in the trunk of his car. The case takes a strange turn after capturing Murphy Cotton when he refers to the victim as “eight”. Steps and Jimmy are certain there are seven previous victims they need to locate. Cotton also reveals that he is working with a partner, but he only knows the man as the Onion King.  Finding the other victims is their first priority while the third member of their team, Intelligence Analyst Diane Parker, uses her extensive computer skills to try to unmask the Onion King’s identity.  The stakes become much higher when another woman goes missing and Steps and Jimmy feverishly work to locate her before it is too late.

Steps and Jimmy are a formidable duo who share a close friendship along with their professional relationship. Jimmy is a skilled FBI agent whose compassion and gentle approach yields valuable information. Although she can a little fearsome, they have great respect and affection for Diane. Her ability to unearth important details provides the first viable lead in their search for other victims. This is where Steps special ability to see people’s “shine” comes into play. Everyone’s shine has a different color and texture so Steps uses this talent to find the place where Cotton took his victims. After making a gruesome discovery, Steps can now track the victims’ shine and hopefully find Cotton’s partner.

Shadows of the Dead is an engrossing mystery with an intriguing storyline. Steps, Jimmy and Diane are three-dimensional characters who skillfully narrow down the suspect pool as they track their killer.  With a few unexpected twists and  turns, Spencer Kope brings this riveting mystery to a pulse-pounding dénouement.  While the current case is completely wrapped up, the tantalizing epilogue will leave old and new fans of the Special Tracking Unit series impatiently awaiting the next installment in this spectacular series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Shadows of the Dead, Special Tracking Unit Series, Spencer Kope, Suspense

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