Book Review: The Shadows by Alex North

The haunting new thriller from Alex North, author of the New York Times bestseller The Whisper Man

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

Detective Amanda Beck is back.  

From Alex North’s previous best-selling novel, “The Whisper Man”, Detective Beck comes to Gritten to solve a copycat murder that occurred in Featherbank where a boy was brutally killed by two others. The murder case was not the first one though.  The crime that happened in Featherbank as confessed by the two boys was inspired by a series of dream journals that a certain Charlie Crabtree instructed.  To be able to solve the murder, Detective Beck must go to Gritten where the murder of a boy by his two friends happened twenty-five years ago.  But how can she solve the murder when the suspect, Charlie Crabtree had vanished and was never heard of again?

What I love about North’s novels is how he writes with such eloquence and passion considering thriller novels usually are terse and fast-paced.  Evident in his two novels, North has always portrayed his protagonists embodying a compelling emotional arc.  The parent-child relationship is also a prevalent theme in North’s books which implies the author’s appreciation for familial bond.  

In terms of plot, North has crafted a highly engaging murder mystery that is shaped by the events of bad youth.  In both his novels, North clearly wanted to expound on the psychology of a child’s emotional development and how it affects his behavior later on in life.  There is a gnawing rawness in North’s writing that always draws me in and what’s great with his novels is how he leaves his readers thinking if there really is a hint of paranormal lurking behind the shadows.

While I may have expressed everything that is good about the novel, I must say that the ending was anticlimactic; an utter deception of what came before.  The ending felt as if the story had nowhere else to go and the arguments were sort of shallow and foolish.  I’d say I did see it coming but still ended up disappointed.  There were a few surprising twists and turns but all the same, I wasn’t satisfied the way I’d hoped to be. 

Overall, I’d still recommend this book for lovers of thriller fiction.  The book’s lush narrative, creepy atmosphere, and the enigma behind the dream diaries are reasons enough to lure you in. A chilling read that will keep you up all night, “The Shadows”  has the power to unnerve yet calms you with its narrative on love and sacrifice.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Author: Alex North

Genre: Mystery Thriller / Crime Fiction / Suspense

Length: 336 pages

Publisher: Published July 7th 2020 by Celadon Books

ISBN-10: 1250318033  

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