Author : Alex North
Title : The Shadow Friend
Pages : 360
Publisher : Michael Joseph / Penguin
Publication date : July 7, 2020
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Twenty-five years ago, Paul’s friend Charlie Crabtree brutally killed their classmate – and then vanished without a trace.
Paul’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened. He’s never gone back home.
Until his elderly mother has a fall. It’s finally time to stop running.
It’s not long before things start to go wrong. His mother claims there’s someone in the house. Paul realises someone is following him. And, in a town many miles away, a copycat killer has struck.
Which makes him wonder – what really happened to Charlie the day of the murder?
And can anyone stop it happening again?
| MY THOUGHTS |
Alex North’s previous book, The Whisper Man, quite easily ended up being my book of the year in 2019. So obviously, his new book, The Shadow Friend, was one my most anticipated books this year. Will that one achieve the highly coveted (*snort*) number one spot on my “books of the year” list too?
I won’t keep you in suspense for too long. The short answer to that question is …..
No, it will not.
That is not to say The Shadow Friend isn’t a good read. It is! It’s just most definitely not anywhere near the level of The Whisper Man. There is a dark vibe throughout the story, this sense of impending doom that you know is leading up to something but you don’t know what that could be. But all the while I kept thinking about C.J. Tudor. How this story was lacking her particular level of edginess and how she could have quite possibly taken this whole story to a completely different level. It seems rather unfair to be thinking about another author while reading someone’s book, doesn’t it? It’s probably also unfair to keep comparing an author’s second book to their first but it’s incredibly hard not to and I fully admit that it could be highly possible I might have enjoyed The Shadow Friend a whole lot more had I not read The Whisper Man first. I’ll never know, will I?
Anywho, let’s talk The Shadow Friend real quick. Twenty-five years ago, Charlie Crabtree killed a classmate. Then he disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. It’s a mystery that still holds people’s interests all these years later. Paul Adams knew Charlie. He also knew Charlie’s victim. Paul left his hometown for university and never came back. Until now. It’s not long after Paul’s return that things start to go wrong and it’s time to find out what really happened on that fateful day twenty-five years ago.
Excellent premise and I’m completely here for that! But, there’s something else quite central to the story that I wasn’t at all sold on. I can’t talk about it because that would ruin it but by the time I had figured out where that particular thing was heading, it was already getting on my nerves. While I understood the characters’ motivation behind it, the idea just never really grabbed me. Not that there weren’t plenty of other things to discover. Some I didn’t see coming that I thought were brilliantly done, others that fell somewhat flat for me.
So many of the things that made Alex North’s previous book stand out were missing from this one for me. That edginess I mentioned earlier, that super intense chilling and creepy vibe, and even the excellent characterisation. At the same time, I have zero qualms in accepting that my anticipations were quite possibly way too high and ultimately my feelings about this one remain rather confusing. I enjoyed it, it’s a good story. Yet, I’m also slightly disappointed for the reasons mentioned above. But I will still undoubtedly be buying Alex North’s next book, because I do think he’s a great author. Like I said, confusing. 🤯
The Shadow Friend is available to buy!
20 Books of Summer : 13/20