18 SECONDS is a gritty and suspenseful police procedural with a unique twist. Written by George Shuman, a 20-year veteran of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the novel has all the ingredients one expects from a first-rate mystery. A brutal and sadistic criminal operates one-half step ahead of the law enforcement agencies seeking to end his reign of terror. Along the way the reader meets innocent victims whose lives are destroyed by random acts of senseless violence that cannot be explained or justified. Violence comes to these victims in the same freakish and capricious manner that a lightning strike or tornado destroys lives. Readers also meet police officers searching for solutions to brutal crimes while balancing the daily problems of personal lives and battling the bureaucratic infrastructure found in all law enforcement agencies.
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Shuman adds a special ingredient to this mystery stew in 18 SECONDS. He introduces readers to Sherry Moore, a blind and beautiful "investigative consultant" with an extraordinary talent. Moore can touch a corpse and see the images viewed by the deceased during the final 18 seconds of life. This remarkable vision is the result of a childhood accident. It allows Moore to assist in solving the unsolvable, but along with this talent comes a burden. The visions passed by corpses to Moore are not clear-cut answers to the question of who committed the crime. Oftentimes the pictures are merely pieces of a puzzle that must be solved by Moore before a finished portrait of a murderer is available to the police. It is a difficult and demanding task that takes a heavy toll on Moore's psyche.
Every quality police mystery must have a criminal whose actions strike fear in not only the fictional world of the author but in the fictional world created for the reader as well. 18 SECONDS brings the reader Earl Sykes, a serial murderer whose trail of violence is interrupted when he's imprisoned and sentenced for a vehicular homicide. Incarceration serves only to embitter Sykes further and indeed expand his web of violence to include those who he believes contributed unjustly to his lengthy prison sentence.
The main protagonist of 18 SECONDS is Wildwood, New Jersey police lieutenant Kelly O'Shaughnessy. She confronts the difficult task of being a female police officer attempting to succeed in what remains primarily a male-dominated profession. But problems with some of her male co-workers are the least of her worries. Murders eerily reminiscent of unsolved crimes that happened decades before are occurring on the boardwalk of her community. It is through a connection to an unsolved murder in Pennsylvania that O'Shaughnessy meets Moore and Detective John Payne. At wit's end in her efforts to solve the boardwalk murders, O'Shaughnessy enlists the aid of Payne and Moore. Their paths converge in a night of retribution and violence that will keep readers awake, turning the pages as they rush to the finale of this fine mystery.
The review of this Book prepared by eyal