Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen

Let me start that saying that this is a book I never would’ve picked up had it not been for my friend Debi. And it will likely be my favorite book of the year. This is something that I’ve come to love so much about blogging. My reading habits have expanded so greatly and I’m a better reader and indeed, a better person because of that. I can find something in just about every section of the bookstore now that I’ll enjoy whereas I never would’ve been able to say that before.

I used to use the blanket statement “I’m not a fan of thrillers or crime fiction.” And that probably holds true for most novels written in the genre, but DAMN this book was amazing. Amazing in that makes you sob huge ugly disgusting noises while you’re reading it and then makes you laugh and then makes your heart just about beat out of your chest kind of way.

Shadow Man delves into everyone’s greatest fears. It pushes the boundaries further than any novel that I can think of that I’ve read, yet it’s also one of the most empathetic and character driven books I’ve read. Agent Smoky Barrett is trying to figure out whether or not she should go back into the FBI. She’s just recently had severe trauma inflicted upon her by a serial killer that she was hunting. She’s walked away with scars, both emotionally and physically. Her body is covered in scars that the killer inflicted upon her and her husband and daughter have both been killed by him. Everything she feared came true.

Until she’s contacted about a new case. Her high school friend has been killed. And not just killed, but raped, tortured, mutilated and tied to her still living daughter. I know you’re thinking “this book is not for me” right now…but read on. Me and Debi actually had this conversation. At this point, I think most of us would put this book aside. But what Debi pointed out to me which holds true for me is that this book is so touching and so amazing because he gives lives to the victims. It’s not just the FBI tracking a killer, but they’re also trying for justice for someone that we’ve come to care about.

But things really do get much worse before they get better. And as this is a thriller, I won’t tell you much more except for that the killer thinks he is a direct descendant of Jack the Ripper and kills in that fashion. Hunting “whores” and wanting to be hunted by the police. McFadyen’s characters are some of the best I’ve read. I felt such a strong connection to them. Especially Smoky, a truly AMAZING woman.

I remember writing a NaNoWriMo novel one year and writing Ana an email saying that I don’t think I could write a female character because I can’t put myself in their shoes. And then after talking with her some, realized that I was being a total ass. And I think this is a problem that a lot of writers fall into. They think “oh if I’m writing a woman character, I have to follow certain stereotypes” which is so stupid. Writing a female character is just writing another person. Same for a female writing a male character. And McFadyen gets this right. He’s written some of the most amazing female characters I’ve read. They’re strong people who all have their weaknesses and he makes them face those. And he had me sobbing as they did.

Did you read Ana’s sunday salon post? I think it’s one of THE most influential and inspiring posts I’ve read in a long time. I’m sitting here trying to think…what COULD I be critical about in this book…are there things that I feel ambivalent about here? And honestly, I can say “no.” This book was really just about perfect. Yes, it has some of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever read in it, but they are there for a reason. It stresses the nature of certain people and gives us a peek into the minds of serial killers. And then it stresses the power of people and what the human brain can handle.

Anyway, can you tell I liked this book? Wow…I did!! Amazing. And there are three more out in this series!! So excited!!

Also, this wraps up my RIP reading for this year…here’s what I read…and yeah, my favorite was this book! Though all around I read some damn good books. The Night Circus and The Name of the Star are likely to be favorites this year as well.

1. A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
3. Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser
4. The Dreaming Volume 1 by Queenie Chan
5. Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
7. Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
8. Bad Blood by John Sandford
9. Halloween edited by Paula Guran
10. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
11. Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen


5 Responses

  1. I am glad you enjoyed this book so much. I have to admit it is not something I would normally pick-up either, but now I am curious!

  2. You did good this year baby boy!!.. I did my wrap up.. lucky I read as much as I did but nothing outstanding this year. I think something is wrong with me… I am about 80 pages into night circus and to ME it’s boring as heck and I’ve put it down and began to read Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders..even the first chapter was more interesting so I think I will continue to read this one. I did add Name of the Star to my wish list but since it’s a series I won’t rush out and get it lol

  3. ….by all means, come on home to blogspot!….

  4. Yeah, this is one of the most emotionally grueling books I’ve ever read…along with his others. But there really is something about them that makes that emotional bashing the reader takes worth it, isn’t there? I realize these books aren’t for everyone, but I’m so glad you loved it because it was sooooo good to have you to talk to about it.

    And damn, my friend! You did amazingly well on RIP yet again!

  5. I haven’t read this book but I read two others in this series and I thought they were definitely deeper serial killer books. I’m so glad you were talked into reading it. Go Debi! 🙂

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