|Behind the Shadows opens as Kira Douglas finds that not only is she not a match and able to donate a kidney to her rapidly dying mother, but also that she is not her mother's biological child. When a second test confirms the result, Kira turns to her mother for the truth. Kira is an investigative reporter who has the city hall circuit, so she is experienced, and well practiced in detecting the "bull" factor in others.
At her mother's bedside while listening to reminiscing, she realizes her mother has no clue what might have happened at her birth. Strong willed, determined and bright, her solution is to find the baby, now adult, who was clearly switched and to persuade her to donate a kidney. For this she enlists the help of Chris Burke, a detective who feels indebted to her mother. Her mother Katy had always worked several menial jobs to provide for Kira and in the course of one of these had proved caring to Chris when he was undergoing a loss.
Chris agrees to help and from the list of babies born during that time at the hospital zeroes in on Leigh Howard nee Westerfield. Leigh has had a troubled life; never quite measuring up to expectations and failing at things she chose to do. She is presently struggling with trying to prove herself in the eyes of others by chairing a horse show event for charity. All of this is done under the strict aegis of Max Peyton, attorney for her family. Max is the trustee of Leigh's inherited wealth and doles it out in Leigh's eyes too parsimoniously. It is not clear to her that Max regards her as a sister.
Kira arrives, makes her request and is immediately perceived as a financial threat. Max and Leigh are not even close to listening until Kira's life is threatened and the possibility of a scandal being daily news becomes a reality.
Gifted writer Patricia Potter is doing many things in this novel at the same time. She integrates the critical issue of organ donations, and the process (known as the list) that determines life or death to those waiting into the story, without assuming the posture of a crusader. Additionally, she tangentially focuses on the genetic versus environmental issues surrounding adopted children.
Utilizing very well developed characters and great dialogue Potter develops the growing attraction between Kira and Max, as well as the secondary romance of Chris and Leigh. Her foreshadowing is artful, tossing in just the right number of red herrings to keep the reader attentive to the developing suspense.
With terrific pacing, after a marginally slow start, Potter offers a novel, memorable for its characters, but more memorable for the understated issues brought forward.