Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on the latest thriller from Helen Fields, The Shadow Man. Although this is a standalone thriller, set in Edinburgh, there may be one of two familiar names that crop up from time to time. My thanks to publisher Avon Books for the advance review copy. Here what the book is all about:
About the Book
The brand new crime thriller from the bestselling author of the Perfect series – Helen Fields is back with her first stand-alone novel!
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.
Helen Fields is back with a heart-pounding new book, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Stuart MacBride.
If you are a fan of Helen Fields’ ‘Perfect’ series featuring Luc Callanach, you will know that she is not one to shy away from exploring the unusual and darker side of crime. That is once again the case with The Shadow Man which follows Detective Inspector Brodie Baarda and Psychological Profiler Dr Constance ‘Connie” Woolwine as they try to find a high profile missing person. What starts as a seemingly straightforward case soon turns into something far more sinister as the pair realise that they have more than one missing person on their hands. But with no apparent link. between the cases, and the perpetrators actions becoming increasingly gung-ho, it makes for one hell of a perplexing case.
As readers, we are privy to far more insight into the perp’s motives than the police team as some of the chapters are told from their point of view. That doesn’t mean we know the full reasons behind their behaviour, although we can make some very educated guesses. I liked that Helen Fields has chosen to explore a very unusual subject when it comes to the mental health of the antagonist in this novel as it brings to light a very strange psychological condition which, whilst rare, certainly leads to some very unusual behaviour in this case. It also adds a real sense of threat and an underlying tension as this person, the eponymous ‘ shadow man’ really feels as though there is nothing to lose, meaning that absolutely anything can and does happen. Do not be fooled by the opening to this book – the reasons for it become very clear all too soon – and the first few chapters really do set up that chill which permeates the whole book. It is up there with the best and most chilling of the Callanach books, so if you love them, you will love this too.
Connie Woolwine is a very interesting character and I found myself warming to her really quickly. Strange to say as when you meet her you soon realise that she is a no-nonsense American woman, brash and forthright, and brimming with confidence, almost a complete clash with the more straight laced and stoic, almost stereotypically English, Baarda. Both are fish out of water in the city of Edinburgh, drafted in specifically to assist with this case. But despite their differences, they really do work well together, both as a detecting team and as a pair of characters. There is a strange chemistry between them and an immediate trust is formed which helped me settle into the story. Don’t worry about having to get to know entirely new characters though – this is Helen Fields’ Edinburgh, so more than the odd familiar face puts in appearance along the way.
This is a really engrossing and chilling book that pulled me in from the start and kept me fully focused on the page. From creepy scenes of stalking, to the portrayal of the fear, anger and almost resignation of the victims in. the book, the author has pitched this just right, keeping the worst of the violence and implications of what is happening off the page, and using the different character perspectives to allow readers to understand what has happened but at a step once removed. You can really feel the tension build and the sense of urgency increase in the victims as we race towards the conclusion, the pulse skyrocketing as the Shadow Man makes his final move, and everything that we have been building towards becomes clear, played out in a nail-biting an nerve wracking showdown between Connie’s wits and the Shadow Man’s psychosis. Top writing that had me racing through the action.
I am just hoping that we will meet Connie and Baarda again, and the ending certainly lends itself to that being possible. With Connie’s more transient career and Baarda being based with the Met, I reckon there are a world of possibilities I’d love to see the author explore. In the meantime, if you like a really tense thriller, with fabulous characters, both charming and chilling, and that explores a really complex psychological issue in a really original way, then pick this book up. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.
Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Perfect Remains is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Helen and her husband now live in Los Angeles with their three children and two dogs.