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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent standalone novel from Val McDermid
Killing the Shadows is the seventh VM novel I have read so far, and although I'm reading her work in the wrong chronological order it hasn't spoilt the pleasure of enjoying one of this country's leading crime fiction writers. As far as I know, this is one of three one-off novels McDermid has written and not part of a series - it's a lot better than The Distant Echo and...
Published on 20 May 2006 by OEJ & SKY

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Killing the Shadows
Even for the most ardent McDermid fan, I'm sure this book came as something of a disappointment. An extremely contrived storyline, rushed and disappointing ending and an endless stream of pretentious references didn't make this a totally enjoyable read.
On paper I guess the plot idea looked quite interesting and it certainly would seem to be full of intrigue and...
Published on 28 Jun 2005 by Rich Milligan


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Killing the Shadows, 28 Jun 2005
By 
Rich Milligan (Thatcham, Berkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
Even for the most ardent McDermid fan, I'm sure this book came as something of a disappointment. An extremely contrived storyline, rushed and disappointing ending and an endless stream of pretentious references didn't make this a totally enjoyable read.
On paper I guess the plot idea looked quite interesting and it certainly would seem to be full of intrigue and originality. Not only have we got another serial killer on the loose, this is a serial killer who is killing the writers of novels that feature serial killers in them. And if that wasn't enough, we also have a sub-plot featuring a serial killer and another sub plot featuring another murderer. Mind you, you don't pick up a McDermid novel and not expect a great amount of blood and gore do you! Just to add another twist to the tale the main serial killer (the one that's killing the writers of serial killer novels) is killing the novelists in a fashion as described in one of their books. Confused? To be honest the novel reads quite straight forwardly so this convoluted mess does sort itself out somewhat.
But such a complex and manufactured story is going to take some sever writing skill to carry it off and I'm afraid that this time Ms McDermid just doesn't do the job. The characters are either carbon copies of previous ones or cartoon cut-outs with no real personality traits. The sub plots are at the best pointless diversion, why have the Spanish serial killer of tourists? How did this tie in with the main plot? Finally the technical accuracy of some of the tools and methods used are suspect to say the least.
The final disappointment is the rushed and almost incomplete ending, after slogging through 500+ pages of story I do expect something a little better than sneaking up behind the killer and then happy ever after. I must admit, contrary to some of the other reviews here, I didn't spot the killer, but there again I wouldn't have expected this character to have done it, in such a wild and fantastic plot development.
The book is very readable and any fan to thrillers will churn through it in a matter of days, but don't blame me if you're left with a slightly stale taste in you mouth when finished.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfulfilled promise, 12 Oct 2006
By 
Daniel Darby (Togliatti, Russia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
I am a big fan of Val McDermid's works. No sooner have I finished one novel I find myself reaching for the next. I have read all the Tony Hill books and now all the stand-alone thrillers, the latest being Killing the Shadows. I'm sad to say it was my least favourite.

I ploughed through the first two-hundred-odd pages with growing excitement at the story's multi-layered action and the possibilities that lay ahead. Crime writers being picked off one by one, ritualistic murder in Spain, a good honest cop's efforts to put right a previously-botched murder investigation, and, playing quietly in the background, the unsolved murder of the central character's sister. Great stuff! I ploughed on.

My mistake, and the reason for my disappointment, was in thinking that all the events would remain relevant. Looking back it does seem unlikely that so much content could. How could so much believeably tie together in the end?

The second half of the story was a let down. I can see the faint relevance of the Spanish murder investigation to the story, but did it warrant so much attention early on in the book? The revealing of the crime-writer murder was surprising, but in a flat and disappointing way, and the motive for murder is far from convincing. The final confrontation scene is a little too unbelievable and the 500-page build up deserved better.

Val McDermid is a great writer - The Distant Echo in particular stands out as a truly rollercoaster of a ride right to the last page - but if you reading her for the first time I'd skip Killing the Shadows and start elsewhere to avoid disappointment. She has done much better.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 28 Jun 2001
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
I read 'A place of Execution' last year on holiday in France and was struck by the originality of plot and good characterisation-a cracking read( 5 stars from me) which made me look forward to the new book with quite some anticipation.
Having purchased the paperback in Tesco,I was looking forward to the tedious commute to work being made more bearable for a while. But what a disappointment!!. The Plot was quite ludicrous (and predictable)whilst the motive of the killer seemed barely credible. There are far too many generalities, aside from copius ( and graphic)details of each death. It seems the author was far keener to detail gore than develop the characters who were mostly one dimensional. One wonders if McDermid has been reading Reichs and Cornwall and believes you can hook the book reading public by raising the gore count. The novel had far too many sub plots, most of which were not developed and therefore became quickly redundant. The identity of the killer was not hard to guess as everyone else in the novel could not have been the guilty party.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well but gets increasingly silly..., 29 Jun 2008
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
This was my first Val McDiarmid and perhaps reading the reviews it wasn't the best place to start (see the reviews under the pink/purple cover edition here on Amazon): this starts out well but starts to deteriorate and towards the end gets increasingly silly with a completely unbelievable denoument.

The plot is multi-layered with three separate murder investigations going on, but that's probably one too many and the since the initial strand of the Spanish plot ends up by going nowhere it could easily have been cut.

The characters were interesting with enough roundness to fill out the book but without them taking over. But I'm afraid that after 500 pages of build up the ultimate conclusion with the identity of the serial killer was barely credible and had me giggling on the tube! It passes a commute but I couldn't help feeling that VM was writing with her tongue very firmly in her cheek.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent standalone novel from Val McDermid, 20 May 2006
By 
OEJ & SKY - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
Killing the Shadows is the seventh VM novel I have read so far, and although I'm reading her work in the wrong chronological order it hasn't spoilt the pleasure of enjoying one of this country's leading crime fiction writers. As far as I know, this is one of three one-off novels McDermid has written and not part of a series - it's a lot better than The Distant Echo and probably on a par with the fact-based A Place of Execution. At not far short of 600 pages it's not a quick read but there's not so much as a sentence of padding anywhere, there's value and impression in every line. Admittedly it is built around a rather convoluted and far-fetched plot, but I buy books for entertainment fare and in this regard it did not let me down. It's a serial murder story, obviously told in great detail but far from X-rated in the descriptive sense, something that the author has been known to do in other novels such as the outstanding The Torment of Others. Central character Fiona Cameron is a psychologist and profiler working with the police but a markedly different personality to the well-known Tony Hill from that high-profile series that was adapted for television. Her partner is a thriller writer who unbeknown to either of them is on a macabre hit-list drawn up by someone seeking a bizarre and twisted revenge for wrongful imprisonment, and seeks revenge by staging murders that copy those that appear in the fictional work of each writer. The body count starts in Toledo in Spain before switching to various British locations, from the centre of London to the remotest hills of northern Scotland.

If I have any criticism it would be that the ending is somewhat 'small' in comparison to the huge and comprehensively created build-up; I would have welcomed another 50 or 100 pages if that could mean that the tension of the conclusion could have matched that of the meat and bones of the main story preceding it. But that would be harsh on a writer who has demonstrated tremendous flexibility in her writing approach over the years, she has the capacity to adapt and improve as well as having that gender-neutral writing style often a weakness in both male and female authors, and in particular she always demonstrates a thoroughness of research of topic, occupation and location together with a consistently convincing understanding of the subject matter. Clearly she is a highly intelligent and imaginative writer who just keeps on getting better and better with each book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Val McDermid, 7 Feb 2007
By 
O. Doyle "celticshedevil" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
I was on the lookout for a good thriller since the demise of Patricia Cornwell & James Patterson into my `never again' list. Then I stumbled across Val McDermid here on Amazon and am so glad I snapped up Killing the Shadows.

The plot centers around a serial killer who seems to be targeting thriller writers and killing them in the same manner that they killed the victims in their books. When one author dies it's a shock, when two die it looks like a pattern but the police are convinced that there's no connection so no need to panic. Fiona Cameron is a profiler who believes otherwise and since her partner is a thriller writer she's more reason than many to be worried about the possibility of the police being wrong.

The twists and turns in this book were excellent and it was a real whodunit right until the very end. I'm not sure what the point was of the whole Spanish side-story though. That could probably have been omitted and nobody would have missed it. All in all though this was an excellent book and although it may have been my first Val McDermid book it certainly won't be my last.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Her Strongest, But Still Some Groundbreaking Innovations, 9 Dec 2009
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
"Killing The Shadows," (2000) is one of Scottish mystery author Val McDermid's earlier publications, her fourth under her own name, and is a standalone, although, as her Wire In the Blood series does, it deals with the psychological profiling and stalking of serial killers. It's a British mystery, of course, a police procedural and rather a suspense/thriller. McDermid jumped to worldwide fame and popularity on the heels of her A Place of Execution that was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel, won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. McDermid's "Wire in the Blood" series has, of course, become the basis for the popular ITV television series of the same name, Wire in the Blood: Series 1 and 2 (5 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2002], starring the toothsome Robson Green.

McDermid was born and raised in a Scottish mining town not far from Edinburgh, north of the Firth of Forth; won a scholarship to the ancient, highly-prestigious Oxford University, where she read English; and worked for sixteen years as a journalist in Manchester, where she still resides. Despite her current English residence, she must be considered, along with Ian Rankin and Denise Mina, one of the leading lights of the Scottish school of mystery writing, "Tartan noir." Which means exactly what? A book that's quite likely more tough-minded and bloody than the norm, lightened by mordant wit, and that sly, Scottish humor. "Killing the Shadows," to me, is far from the author's best book, but, so far as I know, it offered McDermid her first chance to set herself any action in her native land. Her love for that stubborn little country really does shine throughout, as she opens the narrative in Edinburgh, and substantially closes it in the Highlands, with gorgeous descriptive writing.

The novel utilizes that technique so popular in the 1990's, of interspersing supposed "real" information, allegedly taken from books, newspapers, diaries and journals, through the text, and it really doesn't work well for the writer, nor for me, it just slows things down every time. Her plot here, cobbling together two different serial killer hunts, one killer working in the British Isles, and one in Toledo, Spain, (upon which case her protagonist, Professor Fiona Cameron, an academic psychologist who uses computer technology to track serial killers, has been called to consult), is not the author's strongest, either.

At one point, as Fiona discusses the British case with Steve, a friend on the London police, he objects to the possibility that a serial killer might be at work, saying that there is "no signature that we know of...." Fiona replies, "There is a signature of sorts, Steve. Both... [victims]were award-winning authors who wrote serial killer thrillers that have been successfully adapted for TV or film. And they were both killed in ways that mirror deaths that are described in the very books that were adapted.' `It's not a conventional signature,' was the only protest Steve could find. `I know. But I've been working another case - the Spanish one--with an unconventional signature....'"

Well, let me tell you, they aren't just unconventional signatures: they are unlikely, unheard-of signatures.

Be that as it may, the author's decision to set one case in Toledo gives her a good chance to muse about the 15th century struggle to the death between the Spanish King and Queen, Ferdinand and Isabella, and the Moors (Moslems, we'd call them) that had occupied the country for several centuries; also the bloodthirsty Inquisition the monarchs instigated through the Spanish Catholic Church. The writer also details the British Isles cases in her usual unusually vivid, gruesome detail. And it must be said; when McDermid muses about violence and torture, she generally breaks new ground with her frankness.

However, if you read "Killing" and find the violence unpalatable, you'd better stay well away from the Wire in the Blood series.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the usual 5 stars but still very enjoyable, 10 Jan 2007
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
I love Val McDermid and look forward to going on the usually exciting and enjoyable journey of her thrillers. This was very good but not up to the 5 stars of, for instance, the Distant Echo or the Last Temptation.

In this book I was introduced to a new protagonist. I thought that it was an interesting and different slant to the usual psychological profiler, using geographical patterns worked out by computer instead. However, at times I did feel that, for a psychologist, the leading character appeared to be further removed than expected from what must have been part of her original training i.e. on a couple of ocassions, her suppositions were a little niave.

There were 3 lines to the plot - one of which I did not completly see the relevance. This could have been dispensed with, leaving more time to build up suspense, characterisation - whatever!

At the end I was compelled to sit up late at night to read on.

All in all - recommended! A superior thriller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 14 April 2008
By 
CC7 (Berne, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
I'm a fan of Mrs. McDermid and A place of Execution and A distant Echo are my favorites, but here too much is happening in different places at the same time and all this layering ends up confusing or at least not holding your interest in all of the different situations.
I thought the characters were pretty much one-dimensional and I didn't really care much what happened to them. All in all, the diversions didn't work as such but made me lose interest in the story.
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3.0 out of 5 stars it was a brilliant read I didn't want to put down, 17 Aug 2014
This review is from: Killing the Shadows (Paperback)
I took a while to get into this book, with the lack of explanation it jumps about a lot with chapters from the books of the fiction thriller writer's, and diary entries by the serial killer.

However, once into the book, it was a brilliant read I didn't want to put down. However, the ending left me entirely disappointed. There are actually three different plotlines in this book. The one of the Spainsh police case serves little purpose and is just dropped with a okay-ish ending part way though the book. The second supporting plot is probably the most satisfactory and least far-fetched. The main storyline ends in a very unsatisfactory manor, almost like the author has got fed up with the story and writes a brief ending to finish it without really caring anymore. Having been grabbed by the story, I was disappointed by the sudden change of pace and style in the final chapters.

A good writer but needs to invest more in the ending of her books, even if these means making them shorter.
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Killing the Shadows
Killing the Shadows by Val McDermid (Hardcover - 5 Jun 2000)
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