Book Review

The Shadow Man

The Shadow Man

  • Author: Helen Fields
  • Genre: Mystery Thriller
  • Publication Date: February 4, 2021
  • Publisher: Avon

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: stalking, violence, murder, kidnapping, mention of rape, blood, gore, psychiatric trauma, suicide

Rating: 4 out of 5.

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

After reading all the books in the DI Callanach series, I felt pretty well prepared for what this standalone story was going to bring. While there were some similarities, there were also some significant differences.

Fields continues to create incredibly compelling law enforcement characters, and the close connection between them develops quickly without feeling forced. DI Baarda and Dr. Connie Woolwine are both intriguing and I loved their chemistry. However, I did feel like Connie’s portrayal as an American didn’t feel accurate (I can say that fully as an American). Her patterns of speech frequently included phrases that just aren’t used in American English, and it felt like it relied on her use of profanity to enforce that she was indeed American. But not all Americans curse freely, and even those who do tend to hold back while working in a professional capacity.

I haven’t managed to find an author who can set such an incredibly creepy tone in just a couple of pages the way Helen Fields can. In her DI Callanach books, I seriously never learned my lesson, starting a book in the late afternoon or evening, and scaring the wits out of myself until I couldn’t even think of trying to sleep until I had finished the book. But with this book, it just stayed as creepy without crossing the line into terrifying. 

Since the story is set in Scotland, I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of familiar characters reappear in this book. I was thrilled to realize that Dr. Ailsa Lambert plays a role in this story, as does DS Overbeck, who hasn’t changed much at all. Fields also sticks with her usual level of gore and violence, but with a whole never level of psychiatric weirdness added in. There’s some disability representation, and some seriously horrific psychiatric care thrown into the mix. But it all works out to make a compelling story that I couldn’t put down. Not because I was too scared to stop reading, but because I just wanted to find out what happened to the characters. Helen Fields has a magic touch even without the incredibly sexy DI Callanach between her pages.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 13

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