Yes, this book is scary. Alex North has written a crime mystery that is immediately frightening, and the sinister character of Charlie Crabtree will give readers the proverbial creeps. Think of the opening night-time swim scene in the movie JAWS combined with the old reports about Manson cult murders... and you get an idea of the atmosphere when this book opens. However, there seems to be a glimpse of a slightly more normal tale with the appealing character of Amanda, a policewoman whose phone rings as she visits the grave of her father. This experienced law enforcement professional should be able to handle any grisly scene, but the bloody handprints near an unrecognizable young male victim's body shock her. Readers might have a moment of disconnect between chapters 1 and 2 when the narration shifts from third person to first person in the second chapter. It is then that the reader realizes the importance of the prologue; the teen-aged boy being arrested in the prologue is now the older man visiting his mentally unstable, elderly mother in chapter two. Despite the passage of 25 years, the elderly woman with dementia is still haunted by the bloody handprints at the gruesome murder scene - something out of a cult sacrifice. This shift in time settings did not seem to be a smooth segue at every point in the book.
Warning: Alex North's books are not for the faint of heart. To be honest, they are sometimes too gruesome for me. This second novel has many characters, and that - along with the shift in time settings (decades apart)- can make this book difficult to follow at times. Charlie's sinister smile reminded me of a scary character in another new book, THE PATIENT by Jasper DeWitt. If you are familiar with that book, then you may think THE SHADOWS is a 5 star. Maybe I'm just on overload with evil characters. liked Mr. North's previous book, THE WHISPER MAN, more than this latest.