I wasn't aware when I chose this title to review that Measure of Darkness is a spinoff of sorts from Chris Jordan's series (Taken, Trapped and Torn) featuring Randall Shane, an ex FBI agent who has become a child recovery expert. In the previous novels I believe Shane has had brief contact with a member of Naomi Nantz's investigators but while Shane has a crucial role to play in this story it focuses on the team of privately funded investigators.
Funded by the mysterious Benefactor and managed by the efficient and brilliant Naomi Nantz, the private investigation firm includes an ex cop, a young computer whiz kid and Alice, who gave up her receptionist duties in a dentists office to become Nantz's personal assistant after her bigamist husband bled her dry of her life savings. Randall Shane is in the midst of a case to find a missing boy when his client is murdered and turns to Naomi for assistance. Before he can share too many details though Shane is kidnapped by a shadowy group of operatives and subjected to days of torture. In his absence Nantz and her team try to pick up the threads of his investigation to find the missing boy while puzzling out the events that led to the murder of his father and Shane's abduction. It's a tangle of military secrets, perverted patriotism, research funds further complicated by a sociopathic mercenary and an uncooperative FBI which the team need to unravel in order to shed light on the case.
I really enjoyed the complexity of the plot of Measure of Darkness. The novel subtly weaves misdirects and suspects in the fabric of the story that has you considering your assumptions at every turn. The action is punctuated by thoughtful periods of investigation. It is a little slow in places as the team ruminate on the clues (or lack of thereof) available but if you persist the pace picks up and the final denouement is very satisfying.
Measure of Darkness is narrated by Alice, Naomi Nantz's assistant and in the third person through alternate chapters. It's a unusual method but was surprisingly successful for me. I think perhaps because I enjoyed the characters a lot, the team are comprised of some quirky though very clever people, ably supported by a gourmet housekeeper. I find I can easily visualize the group as they discuss cases in formal wear over dinner. I also thought the other characters, even the autistic professor that we never actually meet, are individual and interesting.
Measure of Darkness is a slight quirky suspense mystery with an intriguing cast and clever plot. I think it has broad appeal for both genders who enjoy a challenging mystery.