Title: The Shadow Friend
Author: Alex North
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication Date: 9th July 2020
The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.
Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.
For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.
But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.
It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists 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 afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .
I was really excited to read this book – it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year because I absolutely loved North’s debut, The Whisper Man. I am pleased to say that The Shadow Friend is every bit as sinister and amazing as I’d hoped and just as fantastic as The Whisper Man. The story follows Paul Adams, whose life has been haunted by a traumatic violent event in his teenage years. Charlie Crabtree murdered one of his classmates in a strange and shocking manner and then apparently disappeared off the face of the earth. 25 years later, Paul is forced to return to his childhood home and confront the events of the past and reckon with the copycat murders and eerie events taking place in the present. The narrative is split between Paul and Detective Amanda Beck, who we met in The Whisper Man.
I cannot overstate how much I love Alex North’s writing. It totally draws you in and makes every page feel intense and compelling. The atmosphere of dread and darkness he creates is incredible – there is always a sort of hint of the supernatural teasing at the edges of what is happening. I had to stop reading late at night because it was sending shivers up my spine. Charlie Crabtree is a truly sinister character and every time he was on the page or even just being spoken about I had to keep looking over my shoulder. Charlie is obsessed with the concept of lucid dreaming (which is being in a dream but also being aware that you are dreaming and able to act within it) and this totally freaked me out. There is something quite otherworldly and spooky about dreaming to begin with so the added layer of sinister lucidity creates an honestly terrifying concept which worked perfectly in this story.
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot because there are some fantastic twists and turns to the story that I didn’t see coming in the slightest! What The Shadow Friend does so brilliantly is it gives the reader the dark atmosphere, the frightening characters and clever plot but there is also a real emotional weight to this book. I cared so much about these characters and was completely invested in trying to work out what exactly was going on. If you like your thrillers intense, addictive and unrelentingly engaging then I think you will love The Shadow Friend. I cannot wait to read whatever this author, who is fast becoming an auto-buy for me, writes next. Highly recommend.
I received this e-arc through Netgalley. My review is my own honest opinion.