Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man? The Shadows do! And now, having finished this wonderfully creepy thriller, so do I.
More accurately, the evil lurks in the dreams of man - or specifically in teenage Charlie Crabtree, a bully with a sinister streak who, some 25 years ago, coerced a couple of friends into believing that they had the power to not only control their own dreams, but live in the dreams of the others. Quickly, the situation escalated from bad to much worse; two of the boys, led by Charlie, gruesomely murdered another youngster. One was caught, sentenced and sent to prison, but Charlie escaped and hasn't been seen since.
One of Charlie's original cohorts, Paul Adams, realized that Charlie was up to no good; although he'd stayed with the group to protect his best friend, he turned away not long before the murder that rocked the small community of Gritton Wood. It's close to Featherbank, the setting of the author's first novel, "The Whisper Man" (and if you haven't read that one, hie thee hither to get it immediately; it, too, earned a 5-star rating from me and is one of the best books I've had on my Kindle in a while).
As this one begins, Paul - who was so traumatized by the murder than he left home for college and hasn't returned in 25 years - reluctantly comes back to see his mother (they've kept in touch regularly by phone, but not in person). Her dementia is worsening, and a recent fall at her home led to complications and pending death. Paul's misgivings about returning home already have him on edge, especially since he decides to stay in his childhood home that backs up to a dense wooded area known locally as the "Shadows." But ominous things his mother says, other things that unexpectedly go bump in the night and a discovery in the attic make him eager to turn tail and run. But they also make him curious, especially after he meets police Detective Amanda Beck; turns out she's investigating the murder of a child that bears a striking (pardon the pun) resemblance to the murder of Paul's childhood friend. Is there a copycat killer out there? Or is Charlie still alive and back in business?
The answer comes via an engrossing rest of the story, which includes a few unexpected, and zingy, twists. Of course, my lips are sealed; I'll say only that I read this one almost in one sitting (I just couldn't manage to stay awake to finish what would be another hour, but right after my walk the next morning, I was at it again). In short, it's another highly recommended winner from this very talented author. Thanks again to the publisher, via NetGalley, for providing me with an advance copy to read and review.