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Shadow Man [Mass Market Paperback]

Cody McFadyen
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 27 2007
Once, Special Agent Smoky Barrett hunted serial killers for the FBI. She was one of the best–until a madman terrorized her family, killed her husband and daughter, and left her face scarred and her soul brutalized. Turning the tables on the killer, Smoky shot him dead–but her life was shattered forever.

Now Smoky dreams about picking up her weapon again. She dreams about placing the cold steel between her lips and pulling the trigger one last time. Because for a woman who’s lost everything, what is there left to lose?

She’s about to find out.

In all her years at the Bureau, Smoky has never encountered anyone like him–a new and fascinating kind of monster, a twisted genius who defies profilers’ attempts to understand him. And he’s issued Smoky a direct challenge, coaxing her back from the brink with the only thing that could convince her to live.

The killer videotaped his latest crime–an act of horror that left a child motherless–then sent a message addressed to Agent Smoky Barrett. The message is enough to shock Smoky back to work, back to her FBI team. And that child awakens something in Smoky she thought was gone forever.

Suddenly the stakes are raised. The game has changed. For as this deranged monster embarks on an unspeakable spree of perversion and murder, Smoky is coming alive again–and she’s about to face her greatest fears as a cop, a woman, a mother…and a merciless killer’s next victim.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

McFadyen's debut novel has an intriguing premise—FBI Special Agent Smoky Barrett and her team are targeted by a serial killer who believes he's a descendant of Jack the Ripper—but it poses a few problems for reader McCormick. Barrett begins by describing the "cigar-sized" scars on her face and body, which resulted from an attack by a madman a year before that also took the lives of her husband and child. This unpleasantly precise beginning is a harbinger of the ever-increasing, lavishly described incidents of physical and mental violence that propel the novel, which is much less wince-inducing on the page than it is in your ear. McCormick, an intelligent actress who effectively portrays a sympathetic therapist on TV's Law and Order, elects to deliver this off-putting material in a brusque, almost sardonic manner. If the intent was to undercut the disturbing effect of the prose, it doesn't work. Smoky's best friend and fellow agent, Callie, has a penchant for calling everyone "honey-love," an affectation that even the director of the FBI finds annoying. Thanks to McCormick's exaggerated delivery of the incessantly used phrase, listeners will know exactly how he feels.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shadow Man Jan. 11 2012
By Barb
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Read from December 27, 2011 to January 05, 2012

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.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alright..... Sept. 26 2006
Format:Hardcover
I was intrigued about this book since it stated that it had a 'decendent of Jack The Ripper' and I have always been a little interested in him! The murders in the book do not directly follow those of Jack The Ripper, but it is loosly based on his ideals.

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!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  127 reviews
69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful, gruesome, and Scary...An EXCELLENT read! June 13 2006
By Nick G - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Smoky Barret was one of the best serial killer hunters the FBI had, until the day an unspeakable act of violence brought her world crashing down...

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.

Nick Gonnella
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and relentless--a real stunner! June 21 2006
By Cassie W. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Meet FBI Special Agent Smoky Barrett. She's 4'10" tall, with dark hair to her waist, and half her face is crosshatched with severely disfiguring scars. Six months ago, a serial killer Smoky was hunting broke into her home, killed her husband and daughter, and raped and tortured her for hours before she was finally able to kill him. Smoky's scars from the trauma are emotional even more than they are physical, so for the last six months she's been on leave, seeing a therapist, trying to decide if she'd rather return to the FBI or put her gun in her mouth.

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!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping, bone-chilling thriller June 19 2006
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I wish I could tell you more about Cody Mcfadyen. He is married, has a family, lives in California, and is involved in some capacity with a software company. That is about all I know, besides the fact that his first novel is the wildest night ride I have been on for quite a while.

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
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `A scar is always better than an unhealed, open wound' June 20 2008
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Agent Smoky Barrett is on the FBI's serial murder and child abduction team. Smoky has seen much of the darkest side of human behaviour but this does not inure her to the personal impact when her husband and daughter were slaughtered in front of her. Smoky is still recovering from her own injuries, and trying to come to terms with a life without those she loves but could not protect when her best friend is brutally murdered. While still making decisions about her own future, Smoky is drawn into solving a case which has become deeply personal.

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.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good one, especially for the genre Aug. 23 2006
By Shawn S. Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Cody McFadyen wrote a great "thriller" in Shadow Man. His character descriptions are vivid, his plot quite believable, albeit a bit gruesome, and the pace quick - but certainly not Patterson-esque. It seems that within this type of book, the authors must choose between picking a rediculous ending or a more predictable one. This first time novelist went with the latter but created some terrrific moments of raw human emotion and edge-of-your- beach chair pages with fabulous pace. Hardly an "important read" but certainly a fun one.
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