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Shadow Man Paperback – 4 Jan 2018
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Wonderfully imagined and wonderfully written, patient but propulsive, serious but suspenseful, grown-up but gripping, Shadow Man is everything a great thriller should be. * Lee Child * Shadow Man is smart, chilling, and impossible to put down, an accomplished thriller by a writer to watch. Alan Drew is a rising star, blending suspense and humanity with consummate style. -- William Landay * Author of Defending Jacob * Shadow Man revises the old detective story and turns it in several fascinating directions. Alan Drew writes with precision, subtlety, and a streak of suspense that does not often color the literary novel. * Colum McCann * Part murder mystery, part family drama, Alan Drew's Shadow Man has everything I like in a novel: grit, heart, and nail-biting suspense. It's the sort of magically absorbing novel that keeps you turning the pages and checking the locks on the door. -- Lauren Grodstein * author of A Friend of the Family * Excellent, atmospheric . . . [a] superb police procedural . . . [Ben Wade] is but one of many sharply etched characters who help make Shadow Man a stellar achievement, a book that unspools like a dark-toned movie in the reader's mind. * The Wall Street Journal * In Alan Drew's electric new novel, Southern California in the 1980s is so palpable it is almost a character of its own, lucid and relevant. His main character, Detective Ben Wade, is an outsize but knowable force, up there with Marlowe and Jake Gittes. Shadow Man is an enrapturing read from its start to its unpredictable, enthralling finish. -- Daniel Torday * Author of The Last Flight of Poxl West * Always thrilling and often terrifying, Shadow Man is a descendent of Chandler's The Big Sleep. Underlying the grisly dangers of Drew's novel is the forceful honesty of all good California noir, the necessary and clear-eyed exploration of the innate human truths that should and do scare us. * Claire Vaye Watkins *
An explosively powerful serial killer thriller set in LA. This is an outstanding debut and the start of a new series, with support from major bestselling authors like Lee Child, William Landay, Colum McCann and Lauren Grodstein.See all Product description
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Detective Ben Wade formerly of LAPD Homicide is called out to a murder scene in a neighbouring county. What he sees there confirms what law enforcement believes but the politicians won't admit there is a serial killer on the loose in the Los Angeles basin. The next day he is called out to a fatal shooting where an unidentified Hispanic teenager has been shot. Is it suicide, the politicians' preferred choice or has the serial killer changed his preferred method from strangulation to shooting?
I found Shadow Man to be a disappointing read. From the blurb I was expecting an exciting hunt for a serial killer but this aspect novel is rather perfunctory with the author choosing instead to focus on "Juan Nadie" (Spanish for John Doe I presume) and the growing evidence that his death relates to events in Ben's past. It makes for a slow, drawn out read rather than the high octane implied by the word thriller.
Mr Drew uses italicised chapters (another of my pet hates) to describe the serial killer's thoughts, motivations and history so there is no speculation room for for the reader and while it is a sad tale of abuse there is nothing new in the tone or the motivation. Ben's secret is fairly obvious from early on in the novel so again the only thing left for the reader is the detail and how he deals with it.
Shadow Man is undoubtedly a more literary novel than I was expecting or enjoy. It is well written and well paced, albeit slow. Ben and his relationships with his daughter, ex wife and potential new girlfriend, ME Natasha Betancourt, are nuanced and realistic and the descriptions of his working life seem natural with him being part of a team rather than the do it all hero of many novels. Unfortunately I prefer plot driven novels and character studies do not hold my attention so I found this novel a bit of a slog, easy to put down in favour of doing something else, sometimes anything else.
Shadow Man is not to my taste but for anyone interested in character it is certainly worth a read.
I think, to be honest, that the term "Serial Killer Thriller" is probably a promotional mistake because that tagline promises something that Shadow Man doesn't really deliver. Yes there is a serial killer at work here but that is almost in the way of background noise, a defining set of events that allows Alan Drew to explore his characters motivations, personalities and relationships - especially the father/daughter relationship and the intriguing yin yang of family dyamics.
The mystery elements tie all that together more than become the complete focus - however when our killer is "on screen" so to speak it is highly engaging, we see some of the background to the action and watch the investigation unfold. It is a little bit voyeuristic this novel, in all it's aspects, and beautifully written throughout.
If you are looking for Hannibal Lecter type scares you won't find that here - it is more considered and underlying than that and for me it was more compelling character drama than crime thriller - that doesn't negate the fact that is is very very good indeed. It just may not be exactly as it sounds in the blurb.
Overall a book I would definitely recommend for fans of slow burners with lots of heart and a decent hit of dark side.