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Karen Millie-James

The Shadows Behind Her Smile

Book Review

Where In The Dark

Let me begin with trigger warnings regarding this novel. There is a great deal of content regarding the mistreatment of the Jewish people during WWII. Although relevant, Karen Millie-James did a great deal of research and included this detailed research regarding the treatment of those held in concentration camps throughout the novel.

Now, let me attempt to explain how incredible this novel is without giving spoilers, of course. Where in the Dark is a suspense/thriller, but at a higher level with a complex plot and extremely complex characters. Once Harold and Alfie contact Cydney regarding the bonds, things quickly begin unfolding leaving a trail of puzzle pieces.

The bonds are traced to a bank in West Virginia, but one that also had branches in Germany at one point. That bank is owned by an Albert Whiteman, who used to be known as Adolf Weissmuller when he was a member of the Third Reich. At ninety years old, Albert has been confessing the sins of his life and trying to seek some sort of forgiveness, however, Albert’s Nazi ties risk the future of the bank his family built, as well as his son’s future – his son being the Governor of West Virginia with plans to run as a Presidential candidate.

Running parallel to the investigation into the bonds is the investigation into whether or not Cydney’s husband is still alive and being held by a unit of the Special Forces. Sean has been helping and caring for Cydney and the children since Steve’s “death,” but now a tension rises between them as he tries to learn what has really happened to Steve.

Back to my assertion earlier about this being a higher level suspense thriller, there is nothing simple or easy about the plot of this novel. Karen-Millie James crafted very detailed sub-plots that not only enhance the story but make it completely fascinating. Don’t get me wrong, this is a difficult read at times and not a novel that you will breeze through quickly. However, everything is tied together seamlessly as she slowly reveals the whole picture.

Something I enjoy and respect about Millie-James’ writing is her characterization. Regardless of how secondary a character appears, her writing ensures that you can see and hear this character, in addition to knowing a great deal about them. There are no blanks or question marks after reading this novel or her previous novel, based on her impeccable character development.

On a personal note, I have even more respect for the author and her writing because of the amount of research that went into this novel. Being that I am in the United States and in Virginia (right next door to West Virginia, for those not from the U.S.), Karen Millie-James asked me questions that seemed so mundane, yet it all made since once I read the novel, such as, “what would someone in West Virginia call their father and grandfather? or What do you know about West Virginia politics?)

Not only is the novel outstanding, but it is based on research, as well as, personal family history of Karen Millie-James and her ancestors. Anyone interested in an intelligent, thought-provoking suspense/crime thriller, Where in the Dark should be placed at the top of your TBR.


Jennifer Thomason


The Shadows Behind Her Smile

We just had to share this wonderful review left by Jennifer Taylor after reading ‘The Shadows Behind Her Smile’

This morning I awoke to a beautiful, warm morning out on my deck.  After some coffee, I decided that I should sit out on the deck enjoying the sunny day and dig into another novel to review. I sat down with Karen Millie-James’ debut novel, The Shadows Behind Her Smile, and the next thing I knew three hours had passed and unfortunately I was finished with the novel.  Do you ever find yourself frustrated and almost pouting because you’ve reached the end of a novel?  Reaching the ending of this novel was so disappointing because I wanted this story to continue on and on!

The Shadows Behind Her Smile is about a Cydney Granger and her business as a corporate forensic specialist.  Cydney is well-respected in her field, successful, and also has abilities to communicate with the deceased (making things quite interesting).  Cydney lost her Special Forces husband (Steve) years earlier and now resides with her teenage twins, Sean (who served with her husband), and his daughter Sophie.  Those are some of the major players, but there is a long cast of characters also tightly wound into the plot, especially her new love interest, George.  When Cydney is contacted by a man recently deceased, she proceeds to try to help his widow re-gain control of the family business.  Additionally, she and her team and researching a potential business purchase for a long-time friend.  Between the two business investigations, she is also juggling an aging mother in a nursing home, a selfish sister that doesn’t help out, continued grief over losing her husband, and the prospects of dating and falling in love with someone new.  Needless to say, Cydney has a great deal going on, but she remains driven and committed to her work, family, and friends.  The narrator shifts in the novel from Cydney, Sean, Steve, George, and so on – however, these are not shifts causing confusion.  This is a complex novel with several subplots, however, it is not overwhelming with too much happening.  There were a few times that I got somewhat lost in the business talk about shares and holdings and investors, but I attribute that to my not being a business-minded person. You want to talk education, literature, etc., then I’m your girl.  Not so much with the business and financial stuff.

Anyway… Millie-James has crafted a fast-paced novel filled with crime, suspense, love, loss, and trust that you will not be able to put down once you’ve started.  The writing in this novel will propel you into the plot as if you are working with Cydney’s team on these investigations, instilling a longing for peace and resolution for several of the characters (and punishment for others).  If you are not typically a reader of crime/thriller/suspense fiction, forget you’re preconceived ideas and put this on your to-read list.  Luckily for all of us readers out there, Karen Millie-James is currently working on the follow-up to The Shadow Behind Her Smile, so stay-tuned for more of her eloquent and thoughtful writing.


Jennifer Taylor

My Watford News Article

Local magazine, My Watford News, ran an article about the successful book signing in its August edition.

The full article can be read below –

My Watford News August 16

Book Signing – Watford July

Karen Millie-James took part in her first book signing with WH Smith on Saturday 23rd July of her successful debut novel ‘The Shadows Behind Her Smile’. Fans, along with new readers, took the opportunity to meet the writer of this compelling crime and mystery thriller at intu Watford. She said; “It was an amazing experience to be able to meet and talk to those who have enjoyed the book already and to introduce a whole new group of people to it as well. This is the best way to promote your book and I can only thank the team at WH Smith who gave me so much help. The Manager was delighted with the number of books sold.”

Continue Reading >>

Watford Observer Interview

Karen was happy to speak to a reporter from the Watford Observer.

This article will soon be repeated across other local papers including the Borehamwood Times

Watobs 290716

Euroweekly News Interview

Spending a lot of time in Spain, it was great to be interviewed for Euroweekly News, a Spanish magazine aimed at ex-pats.

Link to the full article below

Euroweekly News




Interview with Francene Stanley

I’d like to introduce a writer who presents a different slant on the law.

Hello, Karen Millie-James.

Do you want your reader to come away from reading your book with a strong message? If so, what is it?

I am not sure if my book has a message. The title indicates that the protagonist, Cydney Granger, has things in her past which are constant reminders to her of pain and tragedy, but she smiles through it and does not give anything away. The second meaning is of course the shadows of spirit around her with whom she can communicate.

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Interview with A. B. Funkhauser


If this were a Twitter pitch party, you would squeeze your tag line into a 140 characters. Would you like to try?

Transported from the boardroom to war-torn Damascus, the suspense erupts with a background of romance and a hint of the paranormal

Who are your main characters?

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Interview with Mark Iles

About a year ago I met Karen Millie-James, a writer whose work entranced me. Her engaging personality and good nature really shines through in her first novel, The Shadows Behind Her Smile. This is truly compelling reading. It’s one of those wondrous and sought-after works that grips the reader so tightly you live the characters. I loved this book! What’s more, it’s free this weekend 20th/21st Feb for a limited time, so grab it while you can. I guarantee you’ll quickly become a fan too.

Read more:


Black storm clouds gathered ominously overhead as if to signal that the day was destined to be catastrophic, as if it was waiting for the hand of God to reach down and fire the wrath of Hades. That was exactly how Cydney felt as an incredible sense of premonition washed over her and the terrible vision that had repeatedly inhabited her dreams, which she had chosen to banish from her mind, came flooding back.

The crunch of tyres on the driveway shook Cydney from her daydream. This was it. This was the time. It had happened as she knew it would beyond a shadow of a doubt.

She grabbed the sink in front of her with both hands as the blood drained from her head. Everything slowed down as if she was still in her dream and the world had stopped spinning. Cydney removed and folded her gloves and laid them carefully on the side of the sink, trying to delay the inevitable. Turning around, she pulled down the sleeves of her jumper, ran her hands through her hair and walked from the kitchen to the front of the house, her steps slow but sure.

Poised in the hallway, she waited for the doorbell to ring. She took one glance up the stairs towards the twins’ bedroom, relieved to know they weren’t there, and watched through the glass in the front door as a black saloon pulled up outside and two men in brown army uniform stepped out, one wearing captain’s insignia, which she easily recognised. The men straightened down their jackets, placed their caps, glanced at each other and walked towards the house, their steps hesitant. Opening the door, she said nothing. One held out a brown cardboard box towards her, willing her to take it and relieve him of his unwanted charge.

“Mrs Granger?” the other asked.

Cydney stood frozen to the spot. Her mouth wanted to work but if she spoke it would mean finality.

“I’m so sorry, ma’am…”

The words floated in the air as Cydney fell to the ground.