Shadow Man Mass Market Paperback – Mar 27 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This disturbing serial killer drama set in California marks a promising debut for McFadyen, who combines many conventions of the genre but with far more exquisite, intricate results than the norm. FBI agent Smoky Barrett, a haunted, complicated woman, leads a team of investigators assigned to a serial killer task force. Barrett, who escaped the clutches of a different serial killer a year earlier but lost her husband and daughter in the attack, is now tracking a madman known as "Jack Jr.," who believes he's a descendant of Jack the Ripper. He mauls women, mostly prostitutes with Web sites, then sends the videotapes of the killings to Barrett and her crew. The plot follows a typical arc, complete with some nauseating details and predictable twists. There's also a romance between Barrett and a bodyguard that seems tacked on for future installments. Yet McFadyen's writing is crisp and smart, and his scenes pack a visceral punch without being cheap or exploitative. Barrett, for her part, is a memorable protagonist, a deeply troubled woman trying to move on from tragedy, yet possessing special insight into the criminal mind. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A serial killer murdered FBI agent Smokey Barrett's husband and daughter. Smokey killed the fiend but was left deeply scarred. Now, after spending time contemplating suicide, Smokey finds herself drawn back into the game . . . by a new killer who has addressed his latest crime to her personally. First-time novelist McFadyen writes like an old pro, acknowledging the conventions of the serial-killer thriller without being slavishly devoted to them. Smokey, the not-quite-five-foot-tall, sharp-shooting FBI agent, is no standard-issue heroine, and her nemesis, the killer who calls himself Jack Jr., is both chilling and strangely compassionate. A series to watch. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This is far more than a chain of events mystery, it delves into the emotions and subconscious of the investigators involved. It stirs up powerful emotions in the reader; emotions that most can identify with. The ending is compelling.
I found the book hard to get into at first, seemed a little slow, something missing....but once the action really started I could not put this book down.
I believe it was a great first book for Cody Mcfadyen!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
With her husband and daughter dead by the hands of a killer that she hunted, Smoky believes she has nothing to live for. Relieved of her duties with the FBI, Smoky is on the verge of suicide, until another act of violence pulls her back into the FBI.
Smoky receives a phone call that one of her best friends has been murdered and the killer has left a message specifically for her. The last thing Smoky needs is to be back in the business that took away everything she loved, but when she hears that her friends daughter, who also happens to be her god-daughter, is in a catatonic state as a result of the horrific ordeal she knows she needs to stop this killer.
As time starts running out and the killer's sick game becomes more brutal, Smoky races to stop a madman before she loses her mind.
'Shadow Man' is the most gruesome, twisted, and scary thriller to come out in a long time. As fast-paced as a book can be, it echoes 'Silence of the Lambs' with a razor-sharp plot, and a killer as ruthless, and terrifying as any in a novel in recent years.
Cody McFadyen has crafted a masterpiece that will rocket up the best-seller lists and establish him as a major new author.
Be warned...this thriller might not be for everyone due to it's sick and graphic killings, but those brave enough to dive in will be rewarded with an amazing, and un-put-downable read.
Do NOT miss this excellent book.
The decision is made for her when Smoky gets a phone call from one of her coworkers, informing Smoky that her best friend, Annie, has been savagely raped and murdered. And it gets worse: Instead of killing Smoky's goddaughter, Bonnie, the killer tied the girl to her mother's corpse, face to face--and she's still there three days later when the police arrive at the scene, in a near catatonic state. To top it all off, the killer leaves a message at the scene, addressed specifically to Special Agent Smoky Barrett. Only a day ago Smoky was dreaming of suicide; now, she's been thrust back into two roles--mother and FBI agent--and she's not sure she's ready for either one.
But this killer doesn't care about Smoky's emotional state. It doesn't take long for her to realize that she's dealing with a serial killer who's brilliant, twisted, ruthless, charismatic, and beastly all at once, one who somehow knows more about her than she knows about herself, who knows all the secrets she--and the members of her team--have kept hidden for years. He calls himself "Jack Jr." because he believes he's a descendant of Jack the Ripper, and the knowledge that he's being hunted excites him to new levels of violence. To catch him, to survive him, Smoky will have to come face to face with her past--whether she's ready to or not.
If you think the police procedural thriller genre is getting tired, SHADOW MAN--the debut novel by Californian Cody McFadyen--will quickly change your mind. This novel singlehandedly rejuvenates the genre with a compelling cast of characters and an unflinching, riveting plot. It's relentless and suspenseful, an intense look into the mind of a serial killer and the people hunting him.
And it's the people hunting him who are the heart of McFadyen's debut. Smoky is an incredible creation, a haunted and complicated heroine, above and beyond the standard-issue characters usually found in this genre. I'm always a little bit apprehensive when I begin a novel written by a man with a woman as the main character, but McFadyen's portrayal of Smoky and her emotional turmoil is spot-on. He's deftly mastered the ability to write from the perspective of a woman, and he does so with grace and stirring attention to detail. I hope McFadyen revisits Smoky's world in his next novel; she'd be a perfect series heroine (she reminds me of Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan in some ways, though maybe she's a bit more tortured than Dr. Brennan).
And while Smoky's supporting team of agents may at first glance seem stereotypical--the computer geek, the unfeeling human robot, the hulking black man with a heart of gold, the untouchable beauty with a sad secret--they are equally well-fleshed-out. The dialogue is spot-on, and the characters interact in compelling and realistic ways.
Although I know this is going to sound strange, this novel was actually a joy to read (despite the brutality of McFadyen's descriptions of the crime scenes--they definitely aren't for the faint of heart). SHADOW MAN is a literary novel as well as a suspenseful one, with sharp, seasoned prose that makes McFadyen seem like someone who's been writing books for years. His first novel definitely doesn't read like most debuts; it's much, much better. In fact, this is one of those books I wish I could thank the author for writing, just because I enjoyed its amazing characters, precise prose, and meticulously orchestrated suspense so much.
In the crime fiction genre, SHADOW MAN is just as good as it gets. It's going to be a joy to watch McFadyen (and his characters) develop as his career continues. SHADOW MAN is sure to be a bestseller this summer, and it definitely gets my highest recommendation!
1. The heroine is a 4"10 FBI agent. Her Christian name is Smoky. Despite her trauma I found her distinctly unlikeable. Her sniffy attitude towards the internet-porn worker victims, following her revelation of sending nude pictures of herself to a site for a 'laugh', was not endearing.
2. One of her colleagues insists on calling everybody 'honey-love'. It grated the first time she said it but the author has her saying it all the time.
3. The identity of the killer is glaringly obvious.
4. The FBI team insist on many re-enactments of each murder. Found this very voyeuristic.
5. The FBI team are hard to take seriously. Saints each and every one of them.
6. The sub-plot about a team-member's long-lost daughter was just unbelievable. As was Smoky's sexual experience towards the end.
7. Twice the same child is placed into mortal danger for no good reason other than the adults around are too daft to look after her properly.
Overall, I think the author has some talent and some ideas, but he just tries too hard. Everything is over the top. Yes, we know Smoky is psychologically damaged but Smoky regularly lectures us about how much pain she is in, how awful her life is. In this book characters don't just cry, they wail, people don't just pray they crawl on their knees crying as they pray. He also has the knack of having Smoky explain everything about what people are thinking and feeling, often when their dialogue already says clearly what they mean.
In the end it's just overkill. McFadyen thanks at least four people with editorial help. They should remember less is more.
SHADOW MAN is soul-numbing, a stiff-legged march through a five-mile-long frozen food locker with bouncing betties intermittently placed beneath the ice. It has a convincing, badly damaged heroine named Smoky Barrett and a brilliant serial murderer who calls himself "Jack Jr." after Jack The Ripper. Jack Jr. knows everything about Barrett. He is intimately familiar with the incident that caused Barrett, an FBI Special Agent, to take a leave of absence, that left Barrett physically and emotionally scarred and her husband and daughter dead. And he's privy to more details than even Barrett is.
Jack Jr. commits an unspeakable act to get her out of the house and back on the job, and then proceeds to go after her FBI team members in the same manner. Everyone on Barrett's team is very highly motivated to catch this guy, but they can't. He might just be too smart. At first blush, the team members are stereotypical: a nerdy brainiac with an anti-social personality, a gentle black giant with a heart of gold and a terrifying façade, and a gorgeous redhead who is almost, but not quite, Barrett's equal on the team. Forget about the first blush, however, and wait for the second.
Remember those bouncing betties I mentioned earlier? Those are the revelations about Barrett, et al. that will jump off the page and explode in your face. Whether Barrett and company catch Jack Jr. almost takes a back seat to the next hidden truth, past and present, about each team member whom Jack Jr. reveals in dribs and drabs. By the time you finish reading this book you'll be running on adrenalin you never knew you had.
If you're sick of books about serial killers, SHADOW MAN is the cure. Mcfadyen's writing and characterization run long, deep and true. And, by the way, he is beyond scary. Not to be missed.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
This novel is generally taut and tight and is at times quite terrifying. Exploring the darker recesses of the human mind, entering a space where most of us hope never to venture. The themes being explored are not new and there will be nothing particularly unique about the plot to those who read a lot of this type of fiction. Serial killers, with ever increasing amounts of graphic violence bleeding through the pages, have become standard fare on the bookshelves. However, I found myself drawn into this story and while elements irritated, the novel was a great way to escape for a couple of hours. And escapism, for me, is what fiction is about.
If you enjoy this particular genre then this book will either appeal or irritate. If you are interested in forensic attention to procedural detail, then this book may not appeal. If you are interested in the motivations and feelings of those caught in such a maelstrom then you may find this a satisfying read. You decide.