Sunset Blues: The Shadow

Justice is Relative - Book 1

Fiction - Mystery - General
185 Pages
Reviewed on 11/18/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Renee Topper is a creative producer and an award-winning, bestselling author. As a storyteller, she’s crafted for the big screen, the little screen, books, the stage, in speeches, press, marketing and advertising communications. PIGMENT is her first foray into the novel format. She is especially compelled to create and share stories that examine the human condition and have a positive impact. Topper has helped shape and tell stories for individuals and brands including Buzz Aldrin, Time Warner, Comcast, Toyota, Lexicon, JBL, DuPont, Smith Barney, The Outlaw Comedy Fund and more.
Topper says she has always been a storyteller, and her craft has taken many forms. She founded Story Matter as a creative lab in 2011. There, she leads a strategic effort to generate stories that reflect the human condition, tales that are mindful and meaningful, stories that matter. Her approach is scientific, utilizing story to examine social issues by first identifying problems, then honing in on the source of those problems to raise awareness and inspire solutions.
Presently, Topper is developing PIGMENT for feature film and is building a team to carry the project through to distribution, plotting Book 2 in the series PIGMENT: Roots (forthcoming in early 2018), finishing Book 1 of the literary series SUNSET BLUES for release in Fall 2017, and producing a docu-reality series on Trauma. She also has several other projects in the works.
She welcomes reviews and encourages readers to sign up for the Story Matter mailing list for quarterly updates, bonus content and more.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Sunset Blues is a thrilling first entry in The Shadow series by Renee Topper, an attention-grabbing blend of mystery and thriller that follows the treacherous path of an undercover cop in his attempt to clear his name. Get ready to be steeped in a world where pressure is ever building and where tensions are high. A highly skilled undercover cop is accused of killing his uncle, who happens to be the District Attorney. Now, Rick Cruz must leave his peaceful abode in the San Bernardino Mountains to uncover the truth and clear his name before he becomes a wanted man. Returning to Los Angeles is like walking into the lion’s den, but he has no choice. Question is: can he prove his innocence before the police or the syndicates get him?

This is a story that is as thrilling as any summer blockbuster film, with heart-pumping action and unpredictable twists. From the very beginning, I was intrigued by the premise of this story, an idea that any reader will feel tempted to follow. The writing is masterfully crafted and it features strong elements of style — suspense, humor, irony, and many others. The characters in Sunset Blues are rock-solid, sculpted for the pulsating action that punctuates the pages of this narrative. Renee Topper has a unique narrative voice and a style that excites readers as they follow the protagonist in his quest for justice. This is one of those few books I’d gladly put on the shelf alongside the likes of James Patterson and Lee Child, a must-read for fans of thrillers.

Divine Zape

Sunset Blues: The Shadow is the first book in a series, and it is a terrific one, featuring mystery and thriller elements. In Renee Topper’s spellbinding introduction to the series, readers meet Rick Cruz, a former undercover cop, now accused of murdering the District Attorney who happens to be his uncle. This brings him out of the shadows into the game. He is a wanted man, but can he prove his innocence, and find the culprit before the police and powerful enemies close in on him? Every step he takes is slippery and he has to choose alliances carefully, unsure where he may fall. Does he have what it takes to solve the mystery in a world filled with crime and distrust?

There is a lot I enjoyed in Renee Topper’s writing. From the beginning of this story, the reader is immersed in a universe that is captured in its minutest detail, with powerful descriptions of the geography and elements of the setting. The conflict is immediately introduced and the reader will be keen on how the protagonist evolves through the tension. The story may be slow to start but the pace picks up pretty fast. Rick is a character that readers will learn to love; well-developed and capable of arousing a lot of interest and sympathy in the reader. The balance between the different narrative elements comes out neatly in Sunset Blues: The Shadow, and the author does an excellent job in using suspense to sustain the reader’s curiosity. This is a story that is engaging, a delightful read, thanks to the strong plot elements, the great characters, and the wonderful prose.

Dr. Oliva Dsouza

In Sunset Blues: The Shadow by Renee Topper, former undercover operative detective Rick Cruz has cut himself off and taken refuge in a cabin in the San Bernardino mountains. But, his past catches up with him and there are people out to get him. Having been accused of the heinous crime of killing his own uncle, who was also the District Attorney, Rick finds himself in a tough spot with all the evidence pointing towards him. Will he be able to return to Los Angeles and find out the truth? Has the underworld lifestyle really made him into one of the criminals that he used to chase? The Receda trial set things in motion and evidence has been planted at multiple murder scenes to implicate the one person who is an important witness in the case. Will the Assistant District Attorney, with whom Rick has a blow-hot-blow cold kind of a relationship, help Rick clear his name? Or is there a totally different side to the whole story?

Sunset Blues: The Shadow by Renee Topper is a captivating story that pulls the curtains off the shady, risky world of undercover cops and shows how, when things go wrong, your own department can become your worst enemy. Rick's character is very interesting and the thrill of reading about his near brush with death and danger makes Sunset Blues: The Shadow by Renee Topper a thriller worth reading. Until the end, one is unprepared for the turn the story is going to take. Rick is smart, fully capable of going rogue, but when someone is playing their cards in a way that even he can't figure out, it makes for an interesting read. Good job!

Deborah Lloyd

Rick Cruz is at the cabin when Tony Palmeri arrives, and a shootout ensues. After Rick’s escape, he heads to the apartment of gorgeous Lita Flores, the deputy district attorney. Arresting the murderer of Will Dunham, who was the district attorney, is the main focus in the adventurous police/legal mystery entitled Sunset Blues: The Shadow - Justice is Relative Book 1, written by Renee Topper. A host of other characters – such as Tony’s wife Carol, Will’s wife Rosa, Garret, Billy, and Receda – complicate the tale. These characters may be innocent, violent, corrupt or shady; it is often unclear who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys.” And, the relationships between these characters are revealed, one by one, adding to the complexity of the plot. The reader is quickly pulled into the story line, and is engaged from beginning to end.

The writing in this novel has a realistic, matter-of-fact tone. The story moves from scene to scene in a chronological format. But, little snippets of past information are included, adding to the relational aspect between the characters. Author Renee Topper has designed a plot, and maneuvered the personalities, to develop a one-of-a-kind adventure in Sunset Blues: The Shadow. There are many twists and turns throughout the story, and there is a surprise ending which always makes an intriguing book even more intriguing! One only hopes that the title of this fictional work indicates there are more books to come, and a compelling new series is on the way.

Scott Cahan

Sunset Blues: The Shadow by Renee Topper is a crime thriller set in modern-day Hollywood, but written in the style of an old Humphrey Bogart movie. The story follows a down-on-his-luck detective named Rick who is being framed for the murder of a loved one. As he sets about the task of proving his innocence with the help of his girlfriend, Lita, and his cousin, Detective Billy, the noose around Rick’s neck seems to get tighter and tighter. A crime boss and his gang of thugs will stop at nothing to make sure that Rick is charged with the murder. As the plot thickens, it becomes more difficult to distinguish the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, but Rick’s resolve to see justice win out continues to the end.

Sunset Blues: The Shadow is a fast-paced story that flows effortlessly from scene to scene, carrying the reader along with it for a fun ride. Author Renee Topper’s style harks back to the black and white detective movies of yesteryear. Every scene gives just the right amount of detail to keep us intrigued and wondering what’s going to happen next. Scenes are finely crafted with tight dialogue, action around every corner, and characters who are mostly one-dimensional; all elements that work together to keep the story moving toward a satisfying conclusion. The most unique thing about this book is that it is written in the comfortable style of a classic detective yarn, but it’s set in today’s world with modern day cops, gang members, and mobsters. The sex and violence are upgraded for today’s audiences as well. This unique combination of the old and the new sets Sunset Blues: The Shadow apart from other crime thrillers. It’s a story that somehow manages to be light and nostalgic on one hand, but violent and dark on the other.