Gazelle in the Shadows


Fiction - Thriller - Espionage
327 Pages
Reviewed on 04/25/2019
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Author Biography

Michelle Peach worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1986 – 1991 serving in London in the News Department and the Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe’s Private Office. She spent three years as the radio communications officer and visa assistant in the British Embassy in Sana’a, in the former Yemen Arab Republic.
She obtained her B.A. (Hons) degree in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Durham University where her second year was spent studying in Damascus, Syria and freelancing as an Arabic translator for a UN research report.
Currently, Michelle is working on her second novel. She is married with three children. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering as a band mom and with local non-profit animal rescue organisations

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach is an enthralling tale of adventure and espionage set in the mid-90s. Elizabeth Booth is a student of Arabic at Durham University, someone who loves to travel, obsessed with the desire to visit legendary places. When the opportunity is offered for her to travel to Damascus to perfect her language skills, it is a dream come true. In Syria, she feels welcomed and builds new friendships and a relationship, but little does she know that the calm waters of this culture hide dangerous currents. Soon she is caught up in a web of lies and betrayal, a murder that involves MI6 and the Syrian secret police. Can she make it out alive?

The narrative begins fairly slowly with an encounter with the professor but it gathers speed pretty quickly and the reader is soon immersed in the emotional life of the protagonist, following her through exotic and lush places as she navigates this new culture and an ancient city. The language is gorgeous and the terrific descriptions capture cultural and physical details of the city with precision, giving readers clear images of where the story takes place. Gazelle in the Shadows features an interesting cast of characters, a strong and suspenseful plot nourished by a multifaceted conflict, and a setting that equally entices the reader. Michelle Peach takes readers into an adventure that is fraught with danger, along with the compelling protagonist. This is a book that makes the reader feel as though they are part of the world it describes.

Midwest review

“Compellingly realistic and packed with both psychological and physical action, Gazelle in the Shadows adds an extra layer of cultural understanding to its espionage thriller theme.” 

Red City Review

“For those looking for a glimpse into new cultures with a taste of a spy thriller, Gazelle in the Shadows will both warm your heart and send shivers down your spine.” 

Dr. Andrew Rathmell, author

“Gazelle in the Shadows is both a coming of age story and a reflection of life in the looking glass world of Hafez al-Asad’s Syria. While told through an intensely personal lens, Michelle’s story provides a sideways look at a Syria that is now gone but also hints at some of the underlying factors that contributed to the country’s ongoing agonies. The book is an unusual combination of bittersweet student memories, geopolitical machinations, and “factionalised” adventures; well worth a read."

NB Literary Magazine

Gazelle in the Shadows is a great read that I think will particularly appeal to those who enjoy espionage thrillers set in slightly more unusual locations and featuring a main character who is very different from the norm.

US Reviews of Books

The author takes the time to give readers a political and historical background refresher to many of the factions that exist and events that happened in Syria and the surrounding Middle Eastern countries so as not to feel lost or confused. While it’s important to note that Damascus was considered dangerous at that time, the author also takes care to present the city and its citizens in a good light, as well, as shown by the hospitality of the locals and the beauty and accessibility of the city. Overall, the book features a good blend of drama, politics, and romance to make for an entertaining read.

Reader Views

Recipient of Readers Choice Award 2018
I love a story that enthralls while also informing the reader. “Gazelle in the Shadows” does it right – it is through the protagonist’s experiences, (as opposed to just being told what happened), I learned so much about the Syrian people, culture, and a significant era in history – all while being entertained within the pages of a remarkable story.

Overall, I found “Gazelle in the Shadows” by Michelle Peach to be an exciting thriller and recommend it to fans of fiction and memoir, and especially to those who love a good international political thriller.

Feathered Quill Book Awards

Recipient of First Place in Debut Author and Second Place in Women's Fiction
Judge's comment - Ms. Peach creates a powerful story. While largely reflecting her personal account through the eyes of a fictitious character, Gazelle in the Shadows provides readers with an inside view on the underpinning machinations in the Middle East. Thought provoking and riveting!

The US Review of Books

The author takes the time to give readers a political and historical background refresher to many of the factions that exist and events that happened in Syria and the surrounding Middle Eastern countries so as not to feel lost or confused. While it’s important to note that Damascus was considered dangerous at that time, the author also takes care to present the city and its citizens in a good light, as well, as shown by the hospitality of the locals and the beauty and accessibility of the city. Overall, the book features a good blend of drama, politics, and romance to make for an entertaining read.