by Vanessa K. Eccles
The whole world is shifting—the incessant flow of information on the global pandemic, the politics, the fear, and everything else vying for our attention—it is all too much. Lately, I’ve found myself avoiding the news, defiantly refusing to submit to the negativity in which we are surrounded. Instead, I’ve focused on cocooning myself inside, locking away to spend time with books, my ever-true friends.
The only subscription box I subscribe to is Book of the Month (BOTM). It’s simple, and in an environment with so many choices, simple is something I appreciate. They narrow it down to a few book options, you make your selection, and they send you a book and a bookmark—absolutely all you need to escape to somewhere, anywhere else.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve ordered other book boxes before, the contents filled with that crinkled paper and trinkets no one really needs, certainly not what people would buy themselves. But at heart, I live in a small house with limited space, so I do not need cutesy trinkets. I’m in it for the book and the book alone. Thank you, BOTM.
Last year, I read Alex North’s The Whisper Man and loved it. I loved it so much that I’m fairly certain I’ve told anyone who’s asked about book recommendations about it. So, I was delighted to see his name on this month’s BOTM list with release of The Shadows.
Charlie Crabtree is a monster. Not just because of the crime he committed or his wicked influence over his friends, either. The fact that he disappeared in the shadows, the woods just outside of town, has immortalized him as a legend. Charlie, the murderer, who controlled his friends’ dreams and brutally killed a teen, has gone down in infamy. At least, as far as the internet is concerned. Now, Charlie haunts the dark web, looking for others to repeat the ultimate evil--murder.
That’s where Detective Amanda Beck comes in. During her investigation of a copycat murder, she’s must first unravel the mystery of twenty-five years ago, and skeletons start making their way to the surface again.
And when Paul, who narrowly escaped Red Hands and Charlie years ago, has to return because his mother is dying, the monster shows his ugly face again. Nightmares, along with lucid dreaming, play a part in haunting him, but though his mind is filled with dark images, it’s his heart that’s suffered most.
The Shadows, like The Whisper Man, dabbles the paranormal edge, leaving readers wondering what’s real and what isn’t. Is there really a ghost named Red Hands in the woods behind Paul’s house? And is the lore around town real, and if so, how does it connect? And where’s Charlie now?
Alex North knows people, the way they think—the way memories, insecurities, and time shifts through a person’s mind in a day. North is a master of words, of that I’m convinced. The pacing, plot, character development, and twist truly made The Shadows my favorite book this year, so far.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers and mysteries.
But the book isn’t the only mystery circulating here. I’m incredibly curious about the author. The bio in the back of the book mentions that Alex North is a pseudonym and that he has published British crime books under a different name. Since I now want to read everything he writes, I wish I knew his other name.
Every book contains hints about the author, and since my curiosity has been piqued, I couldn’t help but read with a watchful eye. A couple of things I found interesting:
My mind is buzzing about what if any of this is tied to solving the mystery behind who Alex North actually is and why he decided now to make a shift in publishing under another name.
As an independently published author, I can see the allure. If I ever were to publish traditionally, I could see myself considering the same thing. Not to mention that the idea of reinventing yourself—carefully curating an image/brand that you’d want to be known as—is incredibly enticing. There’s so much we learn in the early phases of our careers, and it’s only natural to have things we’d do differently. If I could go back, I’d do a lot of things differently.
But who knows… perhaps, I’ll take a cue from Alex North and begin again someday, too.
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