The Shadow Friend by Alex North #bookreview

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Shadow Friend by Alex North which is published today.

BLURB

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 . . .

MY THOUGHTS

The Shadow Friend is another creepy, atmospheric thriller by Alex North. Again Alex North draws on the supernatural. This time the focus is on a disturbing game a group of boys played twenty-five years ago, a game which turned deadly and resulted in the disappearance of one member of the group. The boy who disappeared was never found, and the police have never discovered what happened to him. But is the truth finally about to be unravelled?

Alex North introduces us to Paul Adams who has returned to his hometown as his mother is in a care home and is approaching the end of her life, but he finds himself drawn back to events which took place in his teenage years many years earlier which have haunted him ever since. The centre of the mystery in this novel is the disappearance of a boy twenty-five years ago, Charlie Crabtree, who Paul was once friends with. Since his former friend went missing, a series of killings have taken place which seemed to be inspired by the events surrounding Charlie’s disappearance. And red hands seem to follow Paul everywhere.

Once again, Alex North creates a spooky atmosphere which drew me into the plot and the setting. He paints a very gloomy picture of the town where Paul was brought up, almost as if the town itself isn’t willing to forget what happened there. There are some chilling scenes when Alex North describes the appearance of red hands. This seemed to be the key to solving the mystery behind Charlie’s disappearance, and I wanted to find out what they meant. I enjoyed the scenes when Alex takes us back to Paul’s childhood, and some of the scenes he writes are very disturbing. It made me think even more about what the true picture was and how this was connected to what happened to Charlie.

Although I enjoyed reading this book, and it kept me entertained, I did find that the pace was a lot slower than it was in Alex North’s first book, The Whisper Man. I was interested to find out what was going to happen next and what the truth was, and this is what kept me reading, but I did find this book to be a much more leisurely read.

The Shadow Friend will keep you invested in the plot and the characters, and overall I thought it was a really good read. I’m certain I’ll be reading what Alex North writes next.

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publication date: 9th July 2020

Print length: 368 pages

The Shadow Friend is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

Top Ten Reads of 2019

It’s that time of the year again and we’re nearly into a new decade. It’s crazy isn’t it? New Year’s Eve 2009 only feels like yesterday to me.

Over the last twelve months, these ten reads have really stayed with me, long after I’ve finished reading them, which is why they are included here. This year, so far, I’ve read 131 books, and it has been really hard to pick my top ten.

So without any further ado, here are my top 10 reads of 2019.

10.

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath.

The Guilty Party: Dive into a dark, gripping and shocking psychological thriller from bestselling author Mel McGrath by [McGrath, Mel]

This is the second book I’ve read by Mel McGrath and I felt it was a masterclass in plotting and suspense. I had no doubt at the time I read it, that it would be in my top ten reads this year. You can read my review by clicking here.

9.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and it didn’t disappoint. Alex North created such a chilling atmosphere in this book. You can read my review by clicking here.

8.

A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan

A Window Breaks: A family is pushed to breaking point in this addictive, pulse-racing, emotionally-charged thriller by [Ewan, C. M.]

This was a fast and furious read that literally had me turning the pages well into the night. You can read my review by clicking here.

7.

Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen

This was one of the most unique thriller’s I’ve read this year which is why it thoroughly deserves a place in my top ten. You can read my review by clicking here.

6.

Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear

Stone Cold Heart: the addictive new thriller from the author of Sweet Little Lies by [Frear, Caz]

I was eagerly anticipating the return of Caz Frear’s detective, Cat Kinsella. Caz’s writing is so addictive and I finished it in just a couple of days. Read my review by clicking here.

5.

Violet by SJI Holliday

Violet by [Holliday, SJI]

This was another book I found to be really original. SJI Holliday takes us across Asia in her latest book and both the settings and the characters, to me, is what made this book stand out. You can read my review by clicking here.

4.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

Nothing Important Happened Today by [Carver, Will]

There isn’t a writer out there, who I have come across, who writes quite like Will Carver. Whatever Will Carver publishes next, I know it’s always going to be straight at the top of my list. You can read my review by clicking here.

3.

The Neighbour proves that Fiona Cummins is a writer at the top of her game. This is her best book to date. You can read my full review by clicking here.

2.

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

This was an absolutely terrific debut which takes us back to a dark time in Britain’s and the world’s history. You can read my full review by clicking here.

1.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

Breakers by [Johnstone, Doug]

This is a read that will really pull at the heartstrings and it made me feel so tense as I was reading this. This book has remained my favourite read of the year. You can read my review by clicking here.

 

And that’s a wrap for another year.

I hope you have a great Christmas and a great 2020 filled with brilliant books!

First Monday Crime Book Review – The Whisper Man by Alex North @writer_north @1stMondayCrime

First Monday Crime is back at City University, London on Monday, 4th November at 18.30 p.m. We have another stellar line up for you which includes, Alex North author of The Whisper Man, Louise Candlish author of Those People, Abir Mukherjee author of Death in the East and Victoria Selman author of Snakes and Ladders. The panel is being moderated by Sophie Goodfellow.

Earlier in the year I read Alex North’s The Whisper Man and it is still one of my top reads of the year. I’m re-sharing my review below. And if you would like to come along to First Monday Crime, you can find all the details where you can reserve your FREE space at the end of the blog post.

BLURB

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.

Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home.

Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

MY THOUGHTS

I remember first hearing about The Whisper Man way back, early in 2018, and I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I first read about it in ‘The Bookseller.’

I was slightly worried, as it had received a lot of early praise if it would live up to my expectations, and I’m relieved to tell you that it certainly did. This is one of the best crime novels I’ve read this year. Alex North’s writing is totally immersive and the line “if you leave the door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken,” chilled me. This is a very well thought out book with a spooky and creepy atmosphere, and it was done really well.

Tom and his son Jake move to the quiet town of Featherbank following the death of Tom’s wife and Jake’s mother, Rebecca. They’re hoping for a fresh start, but soon strange things start to happen. Jake begins talking to imaginary friends. Tom, as you can imagine, has a lot of concerns about his son’s behaviour.

Fifteen years ago, a serial killer abducted and killed five children; one child remains missing. In the present day, another child has disappeared, and soon the killer has their eyes set on Jake. But there are some scary similarities to the crimes that took place decades earlier. But the man responsible for those crimes is in prison. Is this a copycat? Or is something much more sinister going on?

This is a novel with a huge amount of heart. Tom confesses in the opening lines how he has struggled to bond with his son, but you can really see their relationship develop throughout this book, and this makes the final scenes so tense and gripping. I couldn’t be sure where we were going to end up at the end, and there were some times when I almost couldn’t bear to find out as I didn’t want anything bad to happen to the characters. A book is only gripping, I find if you care a lot about the characters, and this is what Alex North has achieved with this book.

There is real depth to Alex North’s writing. I really engaged with Tom and his son as they tried to make a new start. You can see just how difficult this is for them and there are some scenes that I’m sure will pull at the heartstrings of many readers. Right from the start of the novel, I just got the feeling that something terrible was going to happen, and this darkness ran right from the beginning to the heart-pounding conclusion.

The Whisper Man is a top crime novel, one I’m certain will hit the bestseller lists. Alex North is a writer who I’m sure will jump straight to the top of my TBR pile whenever he has a new book out. Brilliant and captivating. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publication date: 13th June 2019

Print length: 400 pages

If you would like to purchase The Whisper Man, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

If you would like to come along to First Monday Crime, you can reserve your space by clicking on the link below.

The nearest Tube stations are Farringdon and Angel. Afterwards we’ll be heading to The Dame Alice Owen for a drink.

RESERVE YOUR SPACE

The Whisper Man by Alex North #bookreview

The Whisper Man was one of my top anticipated reads of 2019 and it certainly lived up to my expectations. For crime fiction loves this is one not to be missed.

The Whisper Man by [North, Alex]

BLURB

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window…

MY THOUGHTS

I remember first hearing about The Whisper Man a little over a year ago, and I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. Although I was slightly worried as it had received a lot of early praise if it would live up to my expectation, and I’m relieved to tell you that it certainly did. This is one of the best crime novels I’ve read this year. Alex North’s writing is totally immersive and the line “if you leave the door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken,” chilled me. This is a very well thought out book with a chilling and creepy atmosphere, and it was done really well.

Tom and his son Jake move to the quiet town of Featherbank following the death of Tom’s wife. They’re hoping for a fresh start, but soon strange things start to happen, especially with Jake who begins talking to imaginary friends which Tom, as you can imagine, has a lot of concerns about. A couple of decades ago a serial killer abducted and killed several children, one remains missing. In the present day, another child has disappeared, and soon the killer has their eyes set on Jake. But there are some scary similarities to the crimes that took place several decades before. But the man responsible for those crimes is in prison. Who is carrying out these crimes now?

This is a novel with a huge amount of heart. Tom confesses in the opening lines how he has struggled to bond with his son, but you can really see their relationship develop throughout the course of this book and this makes the final scenes so tense and gripping. I couldn’t be sure where we were going to end up at the end, and there were some times when I almost couldn’t bear to find out as I didn’t want anything bad to happen to the characters. A book is only gripping, I find if you care a lot about the characters and this is what Alex North has achieved with this book.

There is real depth to Alex North’s writing, I really engaged with Tom and his son as they tried to make a new start. You can see just how difficult this is for them and there are some scenes that I’m sure will pull at the heartstrings of many readers. Right from the start of the novel I just got the feeling that something terrible was going to happen and this darkness ran right from the beginning to the heart pounding conclusion.

The Whisper Man is a top crime novel, one I’m certain will hit the bestseller lists. Alex North is a writer who I’m sure will jump straight to the top of my TBR pile whenever he has a new book out. Brilliant and captivating. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 13th June 2019

Print length: 386 pages

If you would like to purchase The Whisper Man, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK   Kobo  Waterstones