Cover Image: The Shadow Girls

The Shadow Girls

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A gripping romantic suspense that is part of a series and would be best enjoyed as such. Alice Blanchard writes an intriguing storyline leading readers through a suspenseful murder investigations while incorporating interesting bits of of the MC's personal life. The writing and characterization are excellent with a dynamic plot and well-crafted story.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC of #TheShadowGirls

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This is an intriguing psychological drama. It is an interesting and gripping story from start to finish. Set in upper New York State in a town with a background in witchcraft, the stage is set for an exciting story. Natalie is a detective who has become famous for solving major crimes. Luke is a Lieutenant who has her complete trust. Together they are on the case of solving a new murder as well as a cold case. Readers will be held in suspense as all the parts of the case come together. There is action as well as romance involved in the plot. This is a well written book that will be enjoyed by readers.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, for the free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

When I requested this book, I saw that it was #4 in the series but expected that the author would provide a brief 'catch up' for those of us readers new to the series. It took awhile for me to understand that the lead character had 2 prior large cases, and this new case was somehow connected. The 'catchup was a little confusing for me. It seemed as though I was missing something and clearly I was. Take note that this book does not do well as a stand-alone and you need to have read the prior 3 books to get the full experience from this one.

I wanted to like this book and the blurb sounded like it ticked my boxes but for me, it just did not deliver. I found that I did not really connect to Natalie. Also, I could have done with less information about her love life as I am in it for the murder and thriller aspect. The ending seemed rushed as the author tried to tie up the story as an end to the series. The plot involving the actual case seems well thought out.

Overall, this one was hard to finish and not a favorite of mine.

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I love books in a series, being that I am binge reader, this book is a continuation of the previous one and it has already been built to read the other books to be able to understand this one, since it wraps everything up. So I recommend reading the others before this one. I never read the other books but one thing I really enjoyed about the book is the female MC, the plot is gruesome, and I couldn’t read this book before bed. As crazy as that sounds, I really like books like this. I couldn’t put it down but at times I got confused when things were mentioned clearly from the other books. But other than that I enjoyed the read.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

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Unfortunately I didn't love this book as much as I loved the last book in the series, The Witching Tree, but I still really enjoyed it. While The Witching Tree had a lot more action and ended on a cliffhanger, this one really wrapped everything up, which is a good thing, just not as exciting. I also could have done with a lot less time spent on Natalie's love life because I'm here for the murder. I still need to go back and read the first two books in the series, which I will do even though Blanchard does a great job of recapping Natalies first two cases, The Violist and The Crow Killer, because they just sound awesome. I love how on the surface, Blanchard's novels seem like cozy mysteries, and then you hit some really graphic and disturbing violence, ala Karin Slaughter. I'm here for it.

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Exciting scenes, a twisty plot, and an engaging protagonist will keep readers rapidly turning the pages in The Shadow Girls by Alice Blanchard. The fourth book in this police procedural series continues to feature Detective Natalie Lockhart with the Burning Lake, New York police department. This is a town that makes the most of its history with witchcraft and has a large tourist trade around it that culminates with the Halloween celebration. It’s March, so the town is quieter until police lieutenant Luke Pittman is attacked, Veronica Manes, a modern-day witch is murdered, and a new body is discovered in a costume shop. What is happening in this small tourist town?

Natalie is a protagonist that solved several high-profile murder cases and is questioning her career and her love life. She is strong when she is pursuing leads and has insights that others miss, but she is also overworked. Her character felt real with clear goals for solving the case and believable motivations for why she is questioning her lifestyle. Hunter, the wealthy man she moved in with four months ago, loves her deeply, but is also overprotective and somewhat vulnerable. While he is a successful and shrewd owner of a technology company and exhibits a strong determination to succeed, his vulnerability around his relationship with Natalie seemed uncharacteristic. The secondary characters were well-rounded and enhanced the story.

As in the previous books, the prologue easily hooks readers. The writing is fluid, atmospheric, and descriptive. The world-building enhanced the setting and gave me a clear sense of place. I felt transported to Burning Lake as though living through the events with Natalie.

This novel shines a light on corruption, love, power, friendship, murder, trust, and much more. Blanchard is a superb storyteller who provides compelling characters, a fantastic plot, and gripping scenes in this disturbing story. The tension is high throughout and the suspenseful narrative kept me fully engaged from the beginning to the end.

Overall, this has a riveting and dynamic plot and is a well-crafted story. It is a page-turner with its complex characters, twisty story line, and fantastic writing that keep me coming back to this series for more. I can’t wait to see what is next for Natalie and the town of Burning Lake. To get the most enjoyment from it, the first three books in the series should be read before starting this one. That will give readers a better understanding of Natalie’s situation.

St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books and Alice Blanchard provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for July 25, 2023. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.

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This is book 4 in the Natalie Lockhart series. In this book, Luke Pittman is lying in the hospital in a coma. Natalie is called to the scene of a murder that ;leads her in places she never thought would happen. She sees clues to unsolved cases as she tries to solve the murder than takes her away from her friend's hospital bed. Can she solves the case and maybe make some headway on the unsolved cases as well?

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I've read all the books in this Natalie Lockhart series and this is the fourth - they are addictive. You really should read these books in order - I don't think it would be good as a stand alone, but it's great if you've been following the story. This is a good police procedural with a strong female lead, and there's a good mystery here as well as a romance triangle involving Natalie and her ex-boyfriend and her current boyfriend. This book seemed like an ending to me and I hate to think Natalie the series has ended, but they have to end sometime, right?

Thanks to St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on July 25, 2023.

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Detective Natalie Lockhart kicks off the fourth in her series by investigating the murder of a Halloween costume store employee while dealing with her romantic feelings for Luke, a colleague who was injured during the events of the previous installment. The town, with its connection to witch trial executions, and the occult themes make this series stand out from other police procedurals.

Natalie makes a great lead in that she’s smart and committed to solving the cases she’s assigned. Her connections to victims and suspects alike keeps things interesting.

Usually, I have no issues with jumping around in a mystery series, but later books in this series have strong connections early books. For example, based on the reviews stating that the previous book ended on a cliffhanger, some of the major threads carried over to THE SHADOW GIRLS.

While I found the atmosphere of the town and the nature of the crimes interesting, there were some things that kept me from fully enjoying this book. A great deal of backstory was shared about the crimes in each of the previous books, which makes me more interested in reading a future installment of the series rather than an earlier one. Often things were told rather than showed, multiple coincidences were employed, and some threads were resolved with minimal conflict/detective work. The final confrontation takes place in a fascinating location, but it felt underutilized. The thing that bothered me the most was the frequent repetition of information, for example a character being related to another character was mentioned four times over the course of three short and sequential chapters. This type of repetition seems to imply a lack of confidence in the reader.

I’d recommend this book, but suggest that the series be read sequentially.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thanks to Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, for providing an Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley.

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I received a free copy from NetGalley. Fourth in a series, and while I often read mysteries as stand alones, this one had some gaps by having not read the other three books first.

Date is for review not for reading.

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The fourth book in the Natalie Lockhart series, The Shadow Girls pulls from past books as the detective works her current police investigation. Natalie is a great strong female detective character and I liked her style of working the case. The story has action and a bit of romance to add flavor. The story wraps up the series nicely and I liked how the story deviated from what I was expecting to happen.
I recommend reading these in order to get the most out of the experience.

Thank you NetGalley and Minotaur books for the advanced reader copy. This is my honest review.

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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the electronic preview. I really enjoyed this book; however, I didn't realize that it was the last book in a series, which bummed me out because this book wrapped up everything in a nice little bow, so there's no need to go back and revisit the others. There's a lot to grasp going in, which would have made reading the previous 3 books helpful as it is definitely not a stand alone book.

It reminds me a lot of the Emma Griffin series by AJ Rivers. I thought the characters were well-developed, and, as I mentioned, since this was the last book in the series, there were a TON of characters to keep up with- but it was easy to do so, and didn't get confusing. There was good suspense, and it had the right amount of twists and turns that made it interesting but not far-fetched. This story kept me riveted and the subject matter fell right into the realm that I so enjoy of police/detective procedurals and a little bit of witchcraft.

It was a quick read, and left me wanting more from the author. I hope she adds another Natalie Lockhart book to her repertoire, as she has a fan in me.

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This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I listened to the first two books in the Natalie Lockhart series but the following books do not seem to have audio versions. The series follows the cases and personal growth of Natalie Lockhart, a detective in a smallish town.

Natalie is living with Hunter Rose but still has a connection with her childhood friend, Luke. Luke is also her supervisor, head of detectives. I started as Team Luke in the first book, and really have continued to be solidly Team Luke. I don't like Hunter as he always wants her to quit her job and just spend all her time with him. Certainly, I am not against her having time off from her work because she has solved some huge cases and had some real personal tragedies.

The murders from The Witching Tree are still having consequences and being investigated and now there is a new murder. When they search the victim's home they make horrific discoveries. Natalie does an excellent job of gathering evidence and pursuing smart strategies. She is in some danger and working longer as Luke starts this book in the hospital. I continue to be uncomfortable with her questioning suspects or even some witnesses without any backup.

Natalie also keeps wondering about her friend Bella who disappeared their senior year of high school, now about 15 years ago. She tries to connect her with an abduction case but learns some other interesting facts.

I am confused by how Natalie is smart and skilled at piecing together and deducing crimes and their perpetrators. She solves a lot. But personally, she is stupid in her relationships. She loves Luke, and doesn't enjoy Hunter's friends or his pushing her to make choices he wants. And the whole going it alone is dangerous.

The Shadow Girls has good pacing. It's also satisfying with finishing up several mysteries and investigations. Her personal situation improves as well. I enjoyed this one while still worrying for Natalie's safety. I could see this as the end of the series, although I would be happy to read more about these characters.

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I have not read the first three books in the series (although I intend to). Therefore, there is a lot of backstory I do not know. However, the author provides enough information about the main characters and past events that the book can be read and enjoyed without having read the earlier books. Detective Natalie Lockhart has already solved the biggest serial killer case in New York (the Crow Killer) and another sensational case (the Violinist) and discovered a devastating secret about her sister. She is enmeshed in another strange case involving the occult in her small town of Burning Lake, as well as a possibly corrupt police officer who has been tampering with evidence. However, the investigation into the death of Randolph Holmes, a Halloween store employee who seemed like a nice guy, although somewhat eccentric, will uncover a hidden dark side, solve a series of missing person cases (the Shadow Girls), and uncover events that are decades old but have had lasting ramifications and which explain the unusually high occurrence of sensational crimes in Burning Lake. The author does a good job of keeping the reader guessing, with some pretty good twists. After all the build-up and the revelation of the masterminds, their arrest comes too quickly and easily for my liking. However, the author has another significant surprise in store for Detective Lockhart (and readers) before the story ends.

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I've been following this series about Natalie Lockhart, police officer in the small town of Burning Lake, NY, and was excited to continue the journey with Natalie. This was yet another solid mystery with a lot of the open storylines from the first three books answered by the end of this one. There were some satisfying resolutions, and I felt like this could be the book that wraps up the series. I will be curious to see if Blanchard stops here or if she continues with Natalie.

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United States Publication: July 25, 2023

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this advanced reader's copy. In exchange, I am providing an honest review.

Detective Natalie Lockhart is torn between a new case and her Lieutenant, and friend, laying in a coma and his life uncertain. Something strange is going on in their town, a string of murders has happened that aren't connected but occurred so close to one another that it feels like they should be. As Natalie investigates this most recent death, certain dark and disturbing facts about the deceased come to light and open the proverbial can of worms. Natalie becomes convinced that her best friend, who disappeared years ago, was a victim of the victim and her obsession with solving the cold case of her best friend and the current hot case converge. Meanwhile, Natalie's personal life is confusing and she isn't sure what the best course of action is. When her personal life and her professional life meet up in a surprising way, Natalie is faced with danger. I mean, when you live in a town that is named Burning Lake, what do you expect?

Full disclosure, I have not read books 1-3 in this series and I kind of wish I had but I also was able to catch on to the main theme of the larger plotline fairly quickly. This was okay but I found I got a little tired of the twist Blanchard was trying to incorporate, it was a stretch and one of those plotlines that feels like Blanchard had two different ideas, but couldn't figure out how to develop each of them into a full title, so combined them. Sometimes that can work, sometimes it's a stretch, and other times it just flat out doesn't work and you blame the author's editor for allowing the attempt. In this case, it didn't completely work and was a stretch but didn't totally fail. I am undecided if I'm going to one, go backward and read books 1-3, and two, go forward with the series. My indecision is based more on my personal time and TBR than it is on Blanchard's writing.

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My thanks to St. Martin's press, Alice Blanchard and Netgalley.
I do wish that I had known that this was part of a series. Not only that it was the end of the series, but that there was so much baggage to unpack between them all.
So...coming into this as the forth and final book, I was mostly lost.
Usually even if I get in on the last book, and find I like it, then I'll order the first books and read them.
But, honestly? I was not a fan of the characters or even the writing style. Believe me, it's a rarity to find something from this publisher that I don't like. But..I really didn't like anything about this.
Also, the fact that it comes across as a mystery is decieving. It's mystery lite. Mostly though, it's just romance. "Excuse me while I gag!"
Not my groove.

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Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.
Expected publication date: July 25, 2023
A dead body is discovered in a costume warehouse in Burning Lake, New York. Detective Natalie Lockhart is called in on the case, even though her partner and long-time love Luke is lying in the hospital in a coma and she is more than a little distracted. As Natalie and her team investigate, the case becomes increasingly more sinister as the dead man leads Natalie back to two more murders she solved years ago, and to the disappearance of her best friend from high school. The connections run deep, and Natalie is faced with the ultimate confrontation from her past in order to save her own future, and the future of her town.
“The Shadow Girls” is the fourth novel in the Natalie Lockhart detective series by Alice Blanchard. I was given the chance to read this story and I jumped at it, as I love police procedurals with female protagonists. I haven’t read anything else by Blanchard, or any other Lockhart novels for that matter, and in this case, “Girls” is one that should be read after the preceding three novels. Although the story was strong enough to be enjoyable, I felt that I missed a lot of the backstory and vital character development by not reading the other Lockhart novels.
The story starts with a dead body in a warehouse, then the trail leads to an abductor/predator, and I was instantly hooked. Somewhere in the middle of the story, I thought I had dropped the plot, as it shifts entirely to incidents that happened in Natalie’s past (and the other novels), but Blanchard manages to seamlessly connect the plot lines by the end.
Police stories with a female lead always seem to have a romance component (for some reason), and “Girls” had that in spades, as Natalie struggles with her feelings for her ex-partner, Luke, and her current boyfriend. This triangle ends as you’d expect, and just the way that the reader wants it to.
Overall, this novel had a twisted (in a good way) subject matter, and I am always a sucker for police procedurals. However, this novel isn’t great as a stand-alone and should be read in order. “Girls” has intrigued me enough, though, to add Blanchard’s other Lockhart novels to my TBR.

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I have loved Alice Blanchard since I first read Trace of Evil (and was thrilled when she confirmed that it would become a series!!) Once again, she did not disappoint!! The Shadow Girls picks up where we last left off with Natalie Lockhart, a new(ish) mystery to solve and ongoing personal drama. As always, I'm obsessed with the setting, which sets the tone for each of her books. I also love the way that Natalie's history is weaved into each book. More importantly, I feel like all of the loose ends from the prior books came to a head in The Shadow Girls perfectly. A MUST READ!!

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The Shadow Girls is another fast paced, hold your breath book in the Natalie Lockhart series.

Natalie is trying to put all the pieces together of the last few cases as the town is trying desperately to recover from the shock of the last few of the murders .

Natalie has been called to yet another violent murder and while investigating his home a horror story comes to light.

There is darkness, evil , witchery and twists and turns that keep the pages turning quickly.

Can all these cases be tied together with the help of her team?

Alice Blanchard keeps you in suspense and holding your breath until the very last page

Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's Press, Minotaur Books for a nail biting read.

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