Published: July 7, 2020
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Length: 9 hours 5 minutes
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.
Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.
It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.
It wasn’t just the murder.
It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…
This is my second Alex North book and it was definitely on par with The Whisper Man, though I liked this story a bit more. The mystery aspect had more a paranormal twist to it in this book, though the story is in truth not paranormal at all. I loved this book in audio format because for one, it keeps me from zooming ahead and missing details (and spoiling things for myself). The narrator does a fine job of bringing the story to life and really getting you immersed in things.
Like The Whisper Man, this book centers around children and then those children when they’ve become adults and have to face the disturbing moments of their childhoods. Paul Ryan returns to his childhood home only when his mother takes a bad fall and it becomes clear that she will soon pass away. For decades he has avoided his hometown, never visiting, and avoiding all thought of it when possible because one of his friends was murdered and the boy who did it disappeared. Now it appears that there are copycat murderers who believe in this urban legend called Red Hands – the very same story that Charlie Crabtree told to Paul and his friends when they were all children. Red Hands is purported to basically disappear you into a dream world, but only after you sacrifice (murder) someone. There was this whole thing about lucid dreaming, evil, manipulative kids, and it was in general a bad time.
This was an extremely interesting book that was surprisingly thought provoking for a mystery. I found myself both disliking and feeling sorry for the kids (Paul included) because they all clearly had flawed home lives. In Charlie’s case, he turned into a bit of a psychopath, in another boy’s case, his desire to fit in and belong made him a target. And Paul… he had the most sense out all those kids but the murder left lifelong mental scars on him. So much so, that he disconnected from his family and moved away as soon as he was able.
The Shadows had some interesting twists and it was engaging for the length of the story. It really made you feel for the characters and I liked the split timelines. The way it was set up actually flowed really well, which can be a difficult thing to accomplish with split timelines. Overall, I’d totally recommend this to mystery fans and hope to keep seeing exciting new stories and ever improving quality from Alex North.