Shadowed by Death

Shadowed by Death: An Oliver Wright WWII Mystery. Book Two

San Francisco, 1944.  Oliver Wright, a homicide detective on medical leave from the Marines, is investigating an attempted murder at the Presidio when the Army asks him to guard Sophia Nirenska, a Polish resistance fighter who survived the Warsaw ghetto uprising in Poland and is touring America to raise money for children hidden from the Nazis in Europe.

Neither is happy with the assignment, but after a car deliberately hits Sophia, they reluctantly agree that he should travel with her to Petaluma where she hopes to get the help of Jewish chicken farmers. She insists political enemies want to silence her, but Oliver believes the motive is more personal and connected to the woman found in the Presidio. He and his German shepherd, Harley, try to protect Sophia, but she insists on doing things her own way—a dangerous decision that puts them both in mortal danger.

When Oliver rescues a girl and her dog who are running for their lives, he finds the key to the dark secret at the heart of the threat to Sophia, a secret with its roots in Poland. When he does, he is forced to choose between enforcing the law as he knows it—and jeopardizing Sophia—or accepting a rougher kind of justice.

While this fast-paced mystery illuminates the fears and troubles World War II inflicts on many groups of people, it is also a story full of love, kindness, and a celebration of the gift of finding family among strangers.

Shadowed by Death will appeal to readers interested in northern California, World War II, the destructiveness of totalitarianism, the bond between people and dogs, and communities that celebrate food and friendship.
It has received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Excellence in Suspense and Mystery Award.



Book Club Discussion Questions


Next Generation INDIE Book Awards 2019 – Winner – Mystery

Independent Publisher Book Awards IPPY 2019 – First Place -Mystery

RWA Daphne Du Maurier Kiss of Death Award (Unpublished Division) 2018Second Place

RWISA Silver Award Winner 2019


Chanticleer Murder & Mayhem Award — Finalist 2018



Starred Review. Set in 1944 San Francisco, Adler’s superior second whodunit featuring homicide detective Oliver Wright (after 2014’s In the Shadow of Lies) finds Wright, who has returned to the U.S. from combat in the Pacific with only one good leg, serving as a JAG lieutenant. He has mixed feelings about his first homicide case: “regret for the victim and her family, and an unseemly exhilaration at being able to do the job I loved—a job that required someone to die violently, unwillingly.”  … Fans of Sheldon Russell’s Hook Runyon series will find this a more than acceptable substitute. (BookLife) Publishers Weekly 07/13/2018.

Historical Novel Society Review  Shadowed by Death is Adler’s second World War II mystery featuring Lieutenant Oliver Wright. Wright is a homicide detective and a Marine, invalided out of the war with a leg injury. As both a Marine and a detective, he’s charged with investigating the attempted murder of a Jane Doe in the Presidio in 1944. In addition to that case, he’s also tasked with protecting Sophia Nirenska, a Polish resistance worker intent on exposing the Russian massacre of Poles in the Katyn forest. Throughout the book there are several attempts on her life.

Animals figure heavily into the plot. Wright’s constant companion is his German shepherd, Harley, who was in Guam with him. A young girl named Rosie has an affinity for them as well, rescuing a dog named Blue from the husband of her missing friend. The villains are telegraphed by the way they treat these animals.

Adler has written a melancholy, atmospheric mystery with a number of threads. Some could have been unraveled earlier had characters just talked to each other, so I grew a bit impatient. Wright and supporting characters are well-drawn, touched by war, trying not to be consumed by it. I look forward to the next in the series. Ellen Keith  HNR Issue 87 (February 2019)

Readers’ Favorite This is the second installment in this series and, after devouring this one in a single setting, I am frantically digging for the first. Set in the San Francisco Bay area i 1944, Shadowed by Death paints a wonderful noir-ish picture of a city at war. Ms. Adler also delves into the utter despair of those trapped in the Warsaw ghetto; one of the more horrendous atrocities ever committed upon a people. And of a time when keeping track of allies and enemies over an ever-shifting landscape was not always a given. Mary Adler does a masterful job in exploring the murky waters, hidden complexities and shifting allegiances of nationalistic and political loyalties during WWII. The author gives us a well-drawn hero in Oliver Wright to cheer for, though he’s often upstaged by the heroics of his sidekick, Harly — his ever-faithful German Shepherd who saved his life in Guam. I highly recommend Shadowed by Death; a definite must-read. Neil A. White.