"Ontario police detectives Paul Manziuk and his new partner, Jacqueline Ryan, make an odd team—he's white, an abrupt, patronizing veteran, while she's a recently promoted, vivacious black woman—but in [Menzies'] debut mystery the two rub elbows and tempers to captivating effect…Like Agatha Christie, [Menzies] spends a lot of time developing a believable web of personal relationships before introducing the murders. However, she updates the Golden Age template with modern police techniques (Ryan has degrees in both psychology and criminology). The result is a cozy that will delight fans who appreciate solid, modern detection.
"Detailed characterization, surprising relationships, and nefarious plot twists provide ample diversion; this first mystery is recommended for most collections."
Carole Ann Nelson (on Dorothy L)
“While this is not a "religious" mystery, it has a preacher's daughter as a character in what is probably the best, most realistic and honest portrayal I have read in contemporary fiction of any sort. There are snippets of sound theology (nothing preachy) as the young woman responds to the curiosity of fellow guests at a house party. (This is an excellent read, in any case, very much in the classic mystery structure, and it suckered me right up to the end.)”
About.com/Mysteries (Lorraine Gelly)
This is a fast paced book that was really hard to put down. At different times I suspected each and every person who was present except for the one who actually did it! Ms. [Menzies] has taken a large cast of characters and made them all into fascinating people, each of whom has something to hide and/or some reason to resent the victim. They are complex, as are their relationships and the writer has made them believable.
The Charlotte Austin Review Ltd. (P. J. Nunn)
A recipe for murder and mystery that simmers slowly and emits an enticing aroma reminiscent of earlier delights. It’s not a taut, edge of the seat thriller but then it wasn’t intended to be….Shaded Light is just that—a convergence of shadows. Purposely patterned after Agatha’s best, readers are led down the garden path where nothing is quite as it seems, and suspects appear at every turn. The killer, revealed at the end, might be a surprise to some. The true joy is in the investigation and the revelation of character quirks and investigative processes. With any luck, we’ll see more of Manziuk and Ryan in years to come.
Gene Stratton, author
This book is what I would call a cozy police procedural. It's the kind I especially like: traditional closed community, lots of suspects, clues, detection, and interesting characters. There is list of the major characters in the front of the book, which is especially handy until we read enough to lock the characters in our minds… Lots of skilled interrogation provides leads, and of course the crime is finally solved. In the process we are treated to varied and carefully delineated characters that hold our attention, to good, uncliched, lucid writing, and to a well-sustained pace as we try to match wits with the detectives… A well-plotted crime novel that should appeal to all those who especially like this sub-genre.
Midwest Book Review
"A cozy reminiscent of the best Agatha Christie had to offer….You have humor, complications, and characters so real that you can just about touch them and smell their sweat. Good stuff!”
Under the Covers
“Highly Recommended. [J. A. Menzies] writes an entertaining Canadian cozy that that will please police procedural fans. The motives of the partygoers are fully developed as the audience sees first hand their animosities and desires even before the first corpse is discovered. Paul and Jillian make a fabulous team as their divergent personalities harmoniously clash to the benefit of the reader. The who-done-it is well designed with a wonderful investigation to add to the pleasure. Pressure will be placed on Ms. [Menzies] to provide more Manziuk and Ryan investigations.”
I Love a Mystery
"Another weekend house party has gone awry—this one in the newly acquired country estate of George and Ellen Brodie outside Toronto….[J. A. Menzies]t works every twist imaginable in her modern cozy-meets-police-procedural, Shaded Light…This excellently plotted novel is the first in a projected series of Manziuk and Ryan mysteries. It kept me reading and guessing until the very end."
The Mystery Reader (Jennifer Monahan Winberry)
"An admirable first outing for a pair of detectives readers will look forward to hearing from again.”
Joan Hall Hovey, author of Nowhere to Hide
"Shaded Light is an excellent mystery in the classic sense—a who-dunnit in the tradition of Agatha Christie, but for the 21st century. Shaded Light would make a great 'Murder She Wrote' type of TV movie. If you like to curl up with a good mystery, one that has humor, a thread of romance, its share of twists and turns, pick up [J. A. Menzies'] Shaded Light, and follow Manziuk and Ryan through the maze of clues and red herrings that will track a killer. I wasn't sure who the killer was until the very end. I'm looking forward to the author's next book in the series."
Elma Schemenauer, author/editor of 80+ books
"Lawyer Peter Martin and his devastatingly beautiful trophy wife, Jillian, captured my interest right from the beginning of this page-turning mystery….The book, in the best Agatha Christie tradition, keeps the reader guessing about which of the assembled weekenders tightened the noose around the victim's neck….I didn't guess 'who done it' until [Menzies] was good and ready to tell me near the end of the book."
Murder and Mayhem Bookclub
"Unlike many authors who stage a murder and then try to connect the suspects, [Menzies] goes to great detail detailing the characters and their relationships, along with the personalities of all the people involved before the crime is committed. She then skillfully combines old fashioned detective work with all the new modern police methods used today with just enough humor to lighten up a grim subject. This is a cozy that you will really cozy up to."
Rapport Magazine, F. M. C.
“[Menzies] writes a very compelling mystery that keeps you guessing until the last minute. Through her ace detective combination of Paul Manziuk and Jacquie Ryan, she leaves no stone unturned and entertains many possibilities….[Menzies'] story succeeds in keeping the reader's interest and the tale never wanes in its action. A very good novel by an accomplished writer.”
The Pilot (Southern Pines, NC)
"This most enjoyable novel is written in the style of Agatha Christie… Follow the clues to a bang-up ending."
I Love a Mystery
"Another weekend house party has gone awry–this one in the newly acquired country estate of George and Ellen Brodie outside Toronto… [J. A. Menzies] works every twist imaginable in her modern cozy-meets-police-procedural, Shaded Light…This excellently plotted novel is the first in a projected series of Manziuk and Ryan mysteries. It kept me reading and guessing until the very end."
Linda Hall, author of suspense novels including Dark Water
"Shaded Light has all the elements of a classic mystery—a body in the garden, a mansion full of suspects, and two mismatched police officers. Combine them and you have a page-turning, keep-you-up-all-night mystery where the murderer isn’t revealed until the very end. This well-written first mystery by author [J. A. Menzies]t is reminiscent of Agatha Christie; the houseguests gather, tensions run murderously high, a body is discovered. Enter cops Paul Manziuk, a “cops’s cop” who’s been a cop forever, and his partner, Jacquie Ryan, young, black female who has had to work hard to get where she is. Together they interview the houseguests. And some very curious clues and red herrings emerge. If you are a mystery fan, Shaded Light, the first in the Manziuk and Ryan series, will keep you reading until the end."
“Ellen Brodie hopes to outshine Martha Stewart as she plans the perfect house party for the partners at her husband’s law firm. However our hostess is confronted with a major faux pas when a corpse is discovered in the garden. The party becomes mayhem even before it's discovered that the guest list includes a blackmailer and perhaps a murderer. Throw in two mismatched Ontario police detectives, stir and you have brouhaha worthy of Agatha Christie.”
Susan Brandt, Managing Editor, Mennonite Brethren Herald
“I thoroughly enjoyed Shaded Light. It was an excellent read.”
Ray Wiseman, The Royal City Journal
“Shaded Light reads like a vintage Agatha Christie…[I]t majors on the process of solving the crime, providing clues and red herrings, and holding the reader in suspense until the very end…”
Selected as one of the books in the Librarians Choice 2000 Fiction for the Cincinnati and Hamilton County library (along with Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, John LeCarre, Elmore Leonard, Val McDermid, Andrew Pypher, etc.).