Shadow Life

Shadow Life by Michael Decter @michaeldecter #book #booksBuy the Book:
Powell's Books

Published by: Cormorant Books
Release Date: October 22, 2022 (Canada), November 23, 2022 (US)
Pages: 296
ISBN13: 978-1-77086-667-6


For fans of John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom series, Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy and Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides comes Shadow Life – the debut novel from Michael Decter, set for release with Cormorant Books on September 15, 2022.

The first book in a planned trilogy, Shadow Life introduces readers to Matthew Rice – a successful sixty-year-old Toronto politico who finds himself suddenly unmoored after serving jury duty on a devastating child murder case. Retreating to his cottage on an isolated island in Georgian Bay after being placed on medical leave, Matthew spends his evenings nursing scotch and old memories as he tries to evade the encroaching nightmares borne of the trial.

It is not long before Matthew’s trips down memory lane lead to Pandora’s box in the form of a missing birth certificate, and the thread of his life begins to unravel more spectacularly with the discovery of a long-buried family secret.

As Matthew’s desire to uncover the identity of his real birth mother sparks an investigation that will take him from Sydney to Boston to Dublin and back to the rocky shores of Quarry Island, readers are drawn into Shadow Life’s atmospheric and delicate web where memory and myth will ultimately collide to reveal self-discovery and new love.



"A compelling novel of a man, shaken by injustice, searching for his family history. Great for fans of John Strelecky's The Cafe on the Edge of the World, Andreas Hartinger's The Brave Child.
- Publishers Weekly BookLife


The Court Clerk read each of the charges as she had done four months earlier when the jury selection for this trial began.

“Henry Dawson. You are charged with one count of murder. You are charged with one count of statutory rape. You are charged with one count of kidnap. You are charged with one count of forcible confinement.”

Matthew Rice rose in the jury box and faced the judge.
“Your Honor, as foreperson of this jury, it is my duty to report that the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the charges.”

A thin, ghastly smile spread over the defendant’s face. It was a cruel and victorious grin. Matthew turned away from the defendant Henry Dawson, angry to his core. And defeated. His anger did not the blunt or diminish the sense of failure that overwhelmed him.

“I have no choice but to declare a hung jury,” the judge said, solemnly. “You are dismissed with the thanks of the court for the time and effort you have expended as jurors.”

He then declared a mistrial, before turning to the lawyers for the prosecution. “Does the Crown wish to seek time to consider its position on a new trial?”

“No, Your Honor. The Crown will not seek a new trial.”

The judge sat silent for a moment before he declared, “the Defendant is free to go.”

Matthew’s hands developed a mild tremor. He could not bear to look at the mother of the murdered child. And he could not shut his ears to her cries of anguish and loss that echoed through the courtroom. His own heart felt like it would break. Matt’s eyes filled with tears as the jurors followed the court constable back to the jury room to collect their belongings. In his heart he knew he had failed to convict a guilty man, a killer of a child. In his head he was reeling, looking for the rational world and not finding it.

It was eight o’clock on Sunday night. The jurors were escorted into the sub-basement of the courthouse and sent home in taxi cabs, some individually and some sharing the ride. Matt found nothing to say to his fellow juror in the cab, each sat in silence as the city passed by, lost in their own thoughts. The streets of Toronto had never seemed so barren and cold.