Chances are you knew a kid like Charlie Crabtree when you were growing up. A bit off, always on the outskirts of the group, a clear dark side that always made you second guess if they could do something truly sinister. Twenty-five years ago, it seems Charlie did do something awful. He committed a brutal murder and then seemingly vanished. Paul Adams remembers that day and Charlie Crabtree vividly. They were once friends and that day marked a horrible experience for Paul that made him unable to be in his hometown. He has returned over two decades later to be with his ailing mother. When he returns he finds that chapter of his childhood never really closed and as a copycat killer strikes in a nearby town, Paul’s old wounds will be reopened. Could Charlie have returned?
Last year I fell in love with Alex North’s writing after devouring THE WHISPER MAN, so when I heard he had a new book coming out this year to say I was excited is an understatement. THE SHADOWS is one of those books that encompasses a lot of plot devices that work together to make a book perfectly suited to my reading tastes.
THE SHADOWS follows Paul Adams, who has recently returned home to spend a few final days with his ailing mother. After spending twenty-five years avoiding his hometown, he has come to realize that you can’t outrun your past. In fact, that idea is shoved in his face as unsettling things start happening around him. Imagine hearing a banging on your door in the middle of the night only to wake up to bloody handprints on your door. Creeped out? Yeah, me too!
My favorite aspect of this book was the concepts of lucid dreams. They’re what Paul has believed all these years played an active role in Charlie Crabtree’s murderous plot. I’ve always been fascinated by dreams and the meaning of dreams, so to have them play such a large role in a crime was truly fascinating! I think this is one of those concepts that will either be a hit or miss with readers and make the book a divisive read.
THE SHADOWS smartly uses flashbacks to Paul’s childhood, his present day situation, and another narrative discussing a copycat killer. Each narrative adds new elements to the truth about what is happening in the present day with both Paul and the copycat killer, while also revealing what happened in the past. I love the way these narratives weaved together to meet at a climax toward the end of the book with several big reveals.
North truly has a way with words and creating stories that are subtly unsettling. THE SHADOWS is a great representation of crime fiction with coming of age elements to the story. If you’re looking for something a bit different, pick this one up!
A huge thank you to Celadon Books and Bookish First for my gifted copy!