City of Shadows

Malta, late 19th Century. Valletta, the capital city, is in turmoil. A series of grisly murders leads London Constable, Archibald Whitlock, to travel to Malta and assist with the investigation.

Meanwhile, Don Lorenzo answers the Lord’s call to protect the flock, while troubled woman Rita Formosa wanders the tangled web of Strada Stretta.

Danger lurks in the dark, constricted lanes of the city and time slowly runs out as each tries to unlock the secret that is haunting Valletta.

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. An excellent story depicting Malta (mainly the city of Valletta) in the late 19th century. The plot revolves around a few key figures (including the murderer) with a very good in depth view of their internal turmoil, ambitions or superiority complexes in a highly socio-religious environment.
    City of Shadows is a well paced serial killer thriller which I’d recommend to any lover of historical fiction

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stacey Cutajar says:

    City of shadows takes you on a vivid emotional roller coaster ride which keeps the reader captivated throughout. Characters are introduced brilliantly and by the end of the book, they become somewhat of a friend of your mind. The plot twists are unpredictable which keep the reader on his toes from beginning to end. City of shadows also makes real locations and landmarks throughout the book which help you enter into the mysterious world the author attempts to create. Whilst the plot is not historic in nature, the book almost feels as if the author was there at the time of the events.

    Highly Recommended!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christian Calleja says:

    Wow that was great! I just finished reading City of Shadows. The storyline simply makes you want to know more. A very well composed build up that makes you feel the emotion of the story, with very descriptive writing which makes it easier to picture what the writer wants you to see and feel.

    I usually leave a book for light reading, but this kept me going ended up reading it in just a few days.

    Really loved the detailed introduction of Maltese characteristics in the key roles, while taking in the reader back in time within streets of Valletta, with all its glory. Well done to the author and looking forward for yet another adventure of this kind. Highly recommended to any one who wants to enjoy a good plot

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Justine Naudi says:

    I started reading this novel just because my friends were reading it but I have to admit I couldn’t stop. Each chapter leaves you with great curiosity of what’s going to happen next. All the descriptions are so detailed that I felt indulged into the story, just as if I’m part of it. In fact, after reading this book I visited Valletta and I could clearly imagine all the events that took place in certain roads. A truly brilliant setting and plot.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love reading historical fiction and City of Shadows, set in the World Heritage City of Valletta is one not to be missed. The plot is so interesting and gripping that the reader will immerse oneself in the story and will not let go until it is finished. In fact, I read it in one week and I am now eagerly waiting for more books from the author. Highly recommended!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Colette says:

    Very good story line.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Matthew Aquilina says:

    Valletta as you have never seen it before! Really enjoyed reading the book. It depicts the Maltese capital in lovely 19th century atmosphire filled with mystery, surpises, and belives all inclosed in a captivating story line. The ease of the writing and flow of the chapters makes it an enjoyable experience to read. Well done to the author. Will be waiting eagerly for the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jonathan Cooke: Freelance Writer says:

    City of Shadows is a Crime Fiction set in Valletta, Malta, in the late 19th Century. The story kicks off with the arrival, in Valletta, of Police Constable, Archibald Whitlock who is sent from London to help investigate a string of particularly gruesome murders.

    Whilst Archibald is clearly the main character and it is his investigation that forms the basis of the plot, the brief interludes with Don Lorenzo and Rita Formosa give the reader a much needed insight into the religious beliefs/behaviours that pervaded the time.

    Interestingly, it is the behaviours generated by these religious beliefs that provide much of the conflict throughout the book and not, as you would expect, Archibald’s investigation.

    As the main character, I have to admit that I found Archibald rather disappointing in that, I did not manage to develop an interest in his cause which inevitably made the story feel boring. This was a shame because, overall, the book is quite well written.

    As plots go I think it was constructed quite well until you get three-quarters of the way through where you are suddenly introduced to a supernatural element that had hitherto been unsuspected. I’m sure some readers might like this peculiar twist to the tale but for me it did not work. If there was to be a supernatural element to the story then I think this should have been introduced much earlier on and not near the end of the book.

    In general I would say that this book is well written and will definitely appeal to someone who has an interest in Malta, especially from a historical or geographical aspect.

    And speaking of geography, considering the amount of street names that are introduced to the reader throughout the book (I can only remember “Strada Stretta” Strada Vescova?) It would have been helpful to have included a map of the city so that the reader could refer to it when needed.

    Overall I think this is a good first novel and had the characters and plot been more carefully thought out and better presented then I would not have hesitated to award it a higher mark.

    Jonathan Cooke: Freelance Writer

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Caroline says:

    I really liked this book even though historical crime novels are not usually my thing. This book had everything, corruption, murder, mystery all set in 19th century Valletta. Mr Naudi’s descriptions of the places and time make you feel as though you are there and taken back in time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lee Julian Dimech says:

    I liked this book. People who are interested in mystery/serial killer solving, history, well as immigration will most probably be interested in reading this book.

    Readers can gain knowledge of what it was like the life in Malta’s capital city, Valletta, in the early 1900s, just before the two world wars. Moreover, one of the things that was especially interesting was, that type of lifestyle under the British Empire was as in lifestyle, as in what people do in society to maintain the persons they care & love.

    This book is very well written, and any age range will enjoy reading it. I give this book 5 stars. 👍🏻 👏

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Katharina Madsen says:

    Hello Mr. Naudi

    I am one of the students from Denmark who have been working with your book for quite a while now. Unfortunately, the meeting we had planned was canceled but your replies to the questions we have asked are greatly appreciated and very interesting.

    As a comment to your book “City of Shadows”, I find it very well-written and well-thought through. The ideas you had for the book when you wrote it are very clear and have successfully been delivered to me as a reader. Overall, I think, it’s a good book and I compliment you for the noticeable amount of details you have hidden within the pages of the book.

    And to answer your questions about our opinion of the book, particularly question 8 and 11, you send us, then my answer is a bit of a mix of the two. The characters were interesting, and I particularly enjoyed the interactions the characters between Rita and Fillipo. It affected me a lot to follow their development throughout the story, although, I was saddened by their fate. Archibald was quite interesting as well, and while I liked how you wrote him, I would gladly welcome even more of his background story, in case you ever decide to write a sequel. His relationship and the bantering between him and Attard was a refreshing touch to the else so dark theme.

    While I believe the story is more character-driven and therefore has its focus on the characters, then I think, you did a good job to include the surrounds around them, A lot of writers, sometimes even myself, tends to use the description of surroundings as mere filling in the book, but I think, you have handled it well, and instead used the scenery as a tool to pique the readers’ interest.

    The only thing, I might add a comment to is the Master of the culprit. You said in one of your videos that you did not want the Master to be the main villain, but rather the culprit(The Wander). I understand your reasoning, but while I like the story already, I think, it would have piqued my interest, even more, if there was a bit more background story about the relation between the Master and the Wander. Why is the Wander so respectful of the Master? What is the Master’s reasoning for taking in the Wander? How has their relationship been build over time(Master/student-wise or family-like)?

    I think it’d add a new perspective to a potential sequel if you added a bit more about the Master, even if he isn’t the main villain. But as I said at the start: A well-written book and I liked it.

    Definitely, a positive result from here!

    Many greetings from Denmark


  12. Magnus Terp says:

    Hi John,
    Q8: For me the surroundings and the people creates an uncanny atmosphere, which i assume also is the point. But it also shows some huge contrasts, for example between the Maltese way of investigating murders, and the British way of doing it. The people also makes this contrast even more clear. On one hand we have the young Archibald, and on the other we have the priest Don Lorenzo, which are two completely opposites.


  13. Eylem Ezgi Teke says:

    COS, A fictional story about jealousy, power, lust, and fear in Malta. That is one hell of a mixture, and I like it for that specific reason.
    I guess every character portrayed in the novel, shapes a surrounding we still have to this day: lacking to find love, being loved, losing love, losing hope, hate, jealousy, pain, suffering, secrets, lies, dishonor, honors, friendship, and enemies. In some way, there is a modernistic yet mental and psychological point of view in this novel. It makes the reader closer to a specific character than we would have thought. That is what I like about this novel. I usually do not read these sorts of fiction novels, let alone novels What I would say is that I found myself mentally in some of the characters portrayed in this novel.

    Rita had an impact on me because she reminded me of her trying to control her demons, yet some demons will not be tamed. She let herself go in the arms of Filippo he was a sort of anchor towards her humane feelings, yet she still felt that she wished she could control her demons instead of having her demons control her. In other words, she was lost. And losing him was perhaps a spark of the last hope she had at all. I also find my answers to have a bit of “Originals” in it.
    Archibald is brave and eager to pursue his destiny yet fails to overcome his fear because he can lose control over his Maltese people.
    Lorenzo, brave, stubborn careless and dumb. He went from being one of God’s men to one of God’s dissenter he died of something he thought he could manage because of his title and position that made him blind.

    I recommend this book as a Danish student, and I recommend that people read up about Malta, or take the trip to Malta someday and enjoy the idyllic nature, the clear ocean water, Maltese food and of course Valletta the icing on the cake and this novel (You simply cannot have the one without the other)

    Sending my Regards from Denmark


  14. Emilie Anthonsen says:

    I really liked your book. I must admit that I thought it was a bit confusing in the beginning because there were all these different characters to keep track of. When I was further into the book it got easier and better. It was really good to have different POVs in the book, I liked that detail.

    Question 8 was about the surroundings, and I think that you managed to make the setting dark and gloomy like you said your intentions were. I also liked the part about there being this kind of cliffhanger at the ending of most of the chapters.


  15. Freja Spangberg-Caspersen says:

    Hi John,
    For Question 8: What effects do the surroundings and people have on the novel?
    While I was reading the novel, the surroundings in particular had an impact of how I interpreted the story, because without the many descriptions of the island, the feel and it’s people I wouldn’t have necessarily guessed it had a dark side, as I would have assumed it to be a utopian paradise. However, because of the many people in the story, I was able to make certain connections to each and every one because of their individual personalities. In general, I really enjoyed reading your work.


  16. Mathilde Koldsgaard says:

    Hi John,
    I am one of the students from Denmark.

    To answer your question to us about how the surroundings and people in the book affected us, I would say that you did a really good job when it comes to including the setting as an important part of the sinister atmosphere. The way you have managed to describe the narrow and dark alleys in the night, and have used them as crime scenes, is very succesful. I liked the contrast between the streets and alleys by day and by night, because it gave the dark a scary role, very fitting to the story and the murders.

    Overall, you have written a lot of interesting characters and have managed to make the many different POV’s intriguing, and I also share your particular interest in Rita as a very interesting character.

    Kind regards,


  17. Linnea Soennichsen says:

    Hello John,
    Q11: First of all, I really liked your book. It is the first time I’m reading a crime fiction book and I must say really enjoyed it. The book is capturing and there is almost always a cliffhanger when a chapter is over, which I think is great. It makes the reader curious and you want to read more. I also really enjoyed the different POV’s in the book. It makes it really interesting because the reader gets to know the different characters and how they are handling the situation in Malta.

    If there is one thing I would have liked, it would be that we got to know the murderer a bit sooner in the book. While reading the book we meet all of these different characters and at the same time the reader is speculating on who the murderer might be. I felt like the murderer came very suddenly, although the person was presented early in the book. So, I guess I would have liked to get to know the character a bit more. It is a minor thing, and as said before I really enjoyed reading your book. It’s great!

    Greetings from one of the Danish students!


  18. Frederik Carstens says:

    Hi John
    Question 8
    I believe the best and most impactful characters of the book like Archibald, Don Lorenzo and Rita, were great factors to the general feeling and setting to the book. They all had their different kinds of attributes which contributed to a very diverse and well-written book. Archibald had the criminal knowledge and detective skills, Don Lorenzo had the church and religious aspects and last Rita had the urban setting. In the end, it helps us see the situations in very diverse and contrasting ways.


  19. Elvira Øvig Eriksson says:

    Hi John.
    Here’s an answer to question 8:
    The surroundings in your book mainly made me quite curious about Valletta, Malta and its culture as a whole. It was fun hearing about all of this, since I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about Malta before reading. I also think you managed to make a great and gloomy atmosphere for the book, which fits the story perfectly.


  20. Amalie Ludvigsen says:

    Hi John
    I enjoyed reading your book, and I think I think it worked really well using 19th century Malta as the historical setting and location. I really gave a lot of interesting layers culturally speaking to crime fiction that I had yet to experience. Really well done.

    In regards to questions 11: I personally felt that you had some well rounded and layered characters. However I also felt that some characters were not utilized properly or were abruptly cut out (ex Emmanuel and Joseph). Had the readers been given some sort of closure to these character, that experience would have been vastly different.

    Despite this it was still a good book 🙂


  21. Hi John.
    I really liked the fact that you brought so many people’s pov’s into the novel.
    It was a bit frustrating at the beginning to keep track of everything but it was easier to understand as you read through the book and it actually made it a nicer reading experience in my opinion.


  22. Nikolai Sandal says:

    Hey John.
    Question 8
    I really liked how the three main characters each represented something, and the contrasts there were between the three main characters. I especcialy liked the conflict there were between Archibald, who represented the new, modern way of doing things, and Don Lorenzo who represented the church and the old way of doing things. I really like how you manage to incorporate these conflicts and characters in to the main story and plot. It makes the setting and generally the book very exciting to read.


  23. Camilla Zacho says:

    Hi John.
    Question 8:
    I think that the very detailed surroundings really did something special for the book. You can really imagine what the city looks like just from reading it and feel the people and the culture. And after visiting Malta you could really see the similarities.

    I really enjoyed reading your book and found it very interesting.


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