Excerpt from Shadow Man by Alan Drew, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Shadow Man

by Alan Drew

Shadow Man by Alan Drew X
Shadow Man by Alan Drew
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  • First Published:
    May 2017, 368 pages
    Apr 2018, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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Part One

Electrical currents pulsed in the tip of each of his fingers. When he had keyed open the trunk of the car fifteen minutes earlier to find the gloves and the X-Acto knife, a spark had leapt off the keyhole. Now the wind was up, just as the man on the radio had said, ripping leaves from the eucalyptus trees and scattering them into the playground. There, beneath the bruised late-evening sky, a couple swayed on a swing, the teenage girl draped across her boyfriend's lap.

He leaned against a tree trunk for a moment and watched them—their tangled bodies swaying in a half circle, her small hand pressed against the boy's cheek, her kisses wide-mouthed and devouring. He peeled strips of bark from the tree until the green skin was exposed to the desert air. The two kids were aware of nothing except each other's body—not the wind, not the deepening darkness, not the screech of the swinging S-hook, not the man standing fifteen yards away in the night shadow of the bowing eucalyptus trees.

The streetlamps flickered to life, and suddenly the dark path of the greenbelt was illuminated, a cement walkway snaking the grass behind fenced backyards. The girl glanced up at the light, but her mind was focused on the boy, on the inner storm heating her body. She might have felt him there, he wasn't sure. People felt things; he'd learned that in the last few months—the heat of his eyes on the backs of their necks, his electric body radiating beneath the windowsill, the hint of his footsteps on their patio steps. It excited him, his presence pricking their awareness. He stood still in the darkness, just as he did now, watching their momentary pause as though hearing some primal echo of people once hunted. Yes, you were prey once.

The girl blinked blindly and then slid down her boyfriend's thighs, her hand moving toward his belt. He could see what her hand was doing, and a memory gripped him—a door thrown open to bursting light, fingers like giant spider legs prickling his skin, his childhood name whispered among the earwigs and beetle bugs and white curlicue worms of the basement. And his childhood voice spoke something, not in his head, not in the memory, but out loud into the present world.

"Who's there?" the girl said, and he was jolted back to himself. Dusk. Santa Ana winds. Greenbelt running through the center of a housing tract.

"Who the hell's there?" the boy spoke now, his voice pitched low to hide his sudden fear.

He liked the boy, liked his fear.

Awake to himself, he spun around the tree trunk and walked behind the grove of eucalyptus.

"Creeper," he heard the girl say.

"Rent a goddamned movie," the boy yelled after him.

His head throbbed now. The electricity buzzed in his teeth and the row of trees bowed over him, their limbs shaking in the wind. He could feel his left eye fluttering and closing, his mind spinning into vertigo until his adult self chastised his childhood self and everything found its place again in the world. The lights illuminating the path were like bright white moons stabbed into the ground. He was drawn into the warm pools of light and then into the cool darkness and back into light until he found himself in the half darkness of a flickering bulb. He stood for a moment beneath the staccato filament until finally it sparked and popped.

Another light caught his attention then. Beyond the pathway was a window. It glowed orange in the night and cast its mirror image on the mowed lawn beneath it. In that window stood a woman, her head enveloped in steam, her features smudged as though an eraser had been rubbed across her face. He watched the woman now, from the greenbelt, music from her stereo floating into the hot evening. Some sort of jazz, his fingers tingling with the beat, a cigarette-scorched singing voice turned loud to keep her company. She was alone, he could feel it. There was an opening in her fence—no locked gate, just a garden of stunted cactus twisting out of white rock.

Excerpted from Shadow Man by Alan Drew. Copyright © 2017 by Alan Drew. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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