Summary and book reviews of Shadow Man by Alan Drew

Shadow Man

by Alan Drew

Shadow Man by Alan Drew
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    May 2017, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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About this Book

Book Summary

What Dennis Lehane does for Boston, Alan Drew does for Southern California in this novel of psychological suspense about an idyllic community rocked by a serial killer - and a dark secret.

Detective Ben Wade has returned to his hometown of Rancho Santa Elena in search of a quieter life and to try to save his marriage. Suddenly the community, with its peaceful streets and excellent public schools, finds itself at the mercy of a serial killer who slips through windows and screen doors at night, shattering illusions of safety. As Ben and forensic specialist Natasha Betencourt struggle to stay one step ahead of the killer - and deal with painful episodes in the past—Ben's own world is rocked again by violence. He must decide how far he is willing to go, and Natasha how much she is willing to risk, to protect their friendship and themselves to rescue the town from a psychotic murderer and a long-buried secret.

With fine, eerie, chilling prose, acclaimed author Alan Drew weaves richly imagined characters into the first of several thrilling novels of suspense featuring the California world of Ben Wade and Natasha Betencourt. Shadow Man reveals the treacherous underbelly of suburban life, as a man, a woman, a family, and a community are confronted with the heart of human darkness.

Part One
THE THINGS THAT KEEP YOU SAFE

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 ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Shadow Man remains a satisfying suspense novel, complete with unnerving glimpses into the serial killer's mind and motivations as well as some adrenaline-pumping pursuits. More generally, however, Drew's latest novel offers deep reflections into the ways damage wrought during childhood and youth continues to scar the present. Ben's investigation into the various crimes afflicting Rancho Santa Elena is compelling, but even more riveting—and ultimately the heart of the matter—is Ben's reluctant investigation of himself, forcing him to acknowledge damage and to confront it, potentially at great personal and professional cost.   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review Members Only (581 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Set in Southern California in the mid-1980s, Drew's entertaining, well-constructed second novel (after Gardens of Water) subverts action hero tropes.

Booklist

Starred Review. The Steinbeck-like passages about the vanishing cowboy landscape contribute to the novel's power.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. An unusually deft blending of styles, Drew's engrossing novel works equally well as psychological study and cop thriller, literary novel and genre piece.

Author Blurb Lee Child, author of Night School
Wonderfully imagined and wonderfully written, Shadow Man is everything a great thriller should be. ... A home run.

Author Blurb Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin
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.

Author Blurb William Landay, author of Defending Jacob
Shadow Man is smart, chilling, and impossible to put down.

Author Blurb Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus
Always thrilling and often terrifying, Shadow Man is a descendant of Chandler's The Big Sleep. Underlying the grisly dangers of Drew's novel is the forceful honesty of all good California noir.

Author Blurb Lauren Grodstein, author of Our Short History
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.

Author Blurb Daniel Torday, author of The Last Flight of Poxl West
In Alan Drew's electric new novel, Southern California in the 1980s is so palpable it is almost a character of its own. An enrapturing read from its start to its unpredictable, enthralling finish.

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Beyond the Book

The Night Stalker Killer

California seems to have had more than its fair share of serial killers over the years, and the so-called Night Stalker killer—who shares more than a few parallels with the killer in Shadow Man—is probably one of the more notorious. Like Alan Drew's fictional killer, the real-life Night Stalker, Ricardo Ramirez, terrorized residents of greater Los Angeles in the mid-1980s.

The Night Stalker, Ricardo Ramirez Ramirez was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1960. As a boy, he was heavily influenced by older relatives, one of whom boasted of torturing women during the Vietnam War and later killed his wife while Ramirez was present; another was an obsessive Peeping Tom who also introduced a teenaged Ramirez to Satanism. Ramirez honed his breaking-and-entering skills as a...

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