Detective Ben Wade has returned to his California hometown of Rancho Santa Elena for a quieter life. Suddenly the town, with its peaceful streets and excellent public schools, finds itself at the mercy of a serial killer who slips through windows and screen doors, shattering illusions of safety. As Ben and forensic specialist Natasha Betencourt struggle to stay one step ahead of the killer, Ben’s own world is rocked again by a teen’s suicide. Ben must decide how far he is willing to go, and how much he will risk, to rescue the town from a long-buried secret, as well as from a psychotic murderer.
This book wasn’t what I expected at all, an in a good way. Shadow Man is a contemporary drama and a mystery of sorts as well, although I wouldn’t say that the crime aspect is the main aspect of the story. Those looking for a fast-paced thriller won’t find it here. However, if you’re willing to give it a chance, I think you could end up really enjoying this little gem.
I warmed up to Ben Wade from the very beginning. Since that first scene with his daughter, I was sold. I loved their interaction. I highly enjoyed reading about Ben and his family, too: their struggles, their obvious love for each other. It was heartbreaking and realistic and I really felt for them. Wade was a tortured man, still fighting demons every day, but that made him even more interesting. The story was set in the 80s, but it could’ve also happened today, as the themes portrayed in this novel are equally important now.
I don’t want to say much about the plot, especially because I read a review on Goodreads where they spoiled the main idea. I think it’s not that hard to figure it out after a while, but I would’ve loved it if I hadn’t known what the book was about before reading it. And believe me, it was not an easy book to read, but it was beautifully written and everything was treated with delicacy.
There are two cases going on, one featuring a serial killer and the other revolving around a potential teenage suicide. It’s not that the serial killer aspect wasn’t interesting, but I didn’t think it was the main focus. I preferred reading about the other case, which was the one that made me more emotional. I remember feeling angry when the main character chose to do something that left me utterly confused. Fortunately, as it usually happens with great novels, it all makes sense in the end.
It is not a book that should be rushed through but rather savoured. I found it compelling and unforgettable and I’m still thinking about it even after a few days. Tragic and beautiful. Don’t miss it.
Netgalley, Random House, 2017