Back in March I attended the Hull Noir online event which not only had some great guests but also a link up with a bookshop to offer signed books, which of course I can never resist especially when it includes the latest by one of my favourite authors, Alex North.
The Shadow Friend is the second book by writer Alex North. The story starts when Paul returns to his home town for the first time 25 years after he left. Returning to visit his mother he is surrounded by memories he has tried hard to forget. However the day his friend Charlie committed a terrible crime isn’t easy to forget especially when it appears there is a copycat criminal now operating.
The Shadow Friend is a creepy read that had me hooked from the start. It is one of those books where when you look back actually the ‘action’ isn’t that much. It is the quality of the writing that gives it a really immersive quality where the tension crackles off the page.
There are two different timelines as we find out about Paul both past and present. In the present we follow Paul dealing with his ailing mother who has been moved into a hospice as well as the creaks and threats that seem to be all around him. A younger Paul is coping with moving to a new school and trying to fit in whilst not being certain he actually wants to. As things get more and more creepy he pulls away but is never really let go.
I felt for the character of Paul, he came across as lonely and lost. Clearly despite moving away he has never managed to put the past behind him and it has affect his whole life. His lonliness almost gives the story an extra dimension as it makes it feel quite a claustrophobic tale as we get further inside his head.
I really enjoyed the book and the short chapters ending on cliff hangers kept me up late every night as I just wanted to read more. Throughout the story there is an undercurrent of the supernatural which adds to the uneasy feeling you get as you head to the final reveal. I didn’t see the ending coming at all. However as soon as you look back you realise that the clues where there but easily missed.
I throughly enjoyed this story and without wanting to give anything anyway there were some twists that I was completely blindsided by. I would highly recommend this, and if you haven’t yet read his first The Whisper Man then that should also be added to your pile!