Author of the Month

Name: M G Gardiner

First Novel: China Lake

Most Recent Book: The Shadow Tracer

'‘The Shadow Tracer’ is Formula One racing in book form.'

Sarah Keller is not your average mom. She hunts down people who have gone to ground and serves them with court papers when she has found them. She knows every way imaginable to avoid the authorities. And she has put her skill to good use and is ready to disappear herself if ever the need arises.

When her daughter, Zoe is involved in an accident on her school bus questions are asked at the hospital. Why is Sarah’s daughter blood group type O positive and yet Sarah is blood type AB. An AB parent can’t give birth to an O type child. And then there is the matter of the RFID microchip in the back of Zoe’s neck. What is it doing there and when it is scanned it claims Zoe is the daughter of Bethany Keller Worthe. Sarah can see that her life here is over and she and Zoe need to run.

Using her knowledge, Sarah spirits Zoe away and out of harm’s reach – but not before an FBI agent bent on bringing the dangerous, psychotic Worthe clan to book – uses Zoe as bait to draw them out. Now the Worthe clan know where Zoe is, they rapidly descend on Oklahoma and begin to hunt Sarah down and take back the property they feel rightfully belongs to the clan. Now the ‘Shattering Angel’ and his two angel wings have been called in to action – and they won’t let anyone stand in the way of their given path.

Whenever I read one of Gardiner’s books I am completely exhausted by the end of it! ‘The Shadow Tracer’ sizzles from the beginning and just like my favourite, ‘The Memory Collector’, does not take its foot off the throttle. Gardiner can certainly write sassy women and Sarah Keller is no exception. She knows her stuff and going underground and becoming untraceable is her forte. With the help of Michael Lawless, a US Marshal, Keller runs for her life as well as that of her ‘daughter’, Zoe. I can’t say anymore – you will simply have to read it yourself.

Gardiner certainly does her homework and there are parts of this novel, especially about certain technology that I never knew existed! Even in a time when the world decries the coming of Big Brother, Gardiner shows us that in this day and age you can still disappear without trace.

You could feel the power the Worthe clan wield and although many were pushing buttons ‘off stage’, I would have liked to have seen more of the clan leader, Eldrick Worthe. He was to initiate the search for Zoe but have no further part in it, although you could feel his menacing presence was far-reaching despite being in prison.

The whole thing comes to a ‘knuckle-gripping, hold on to the seat of your pants’ finale in a graveyard for decommissioned planes which is filmic to say the least. Sometimes I couldn’t read for putting my hand over my eyes, not daring to read any more, the suspense was that palpable.

‘The Shadow Tracer’ is a standalone but I am hopeful that US Marshal, Michael Lawless will be back. He is a dark one and I feel he is teeming with secrets and is a man who has a contingency plan for every scenario. I wouldn’t put it past him to have a utility belt, too! I for one want to meet this man again and learn more about him. He was definitely the dark shining star of this drama.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating


1) Why did you choose crime as the basis for your novels?
Because I love reading it. And because crime fiction is about life and death: people facing danger, and finding the courage to confront it, under the greatest possible pressure. Writing crime fiction is also fun. I get to send readers on a rollercoaster ride through dangers, toils, and snares, and bring them back safely at the end. If I’m lucky, they’ll enjoy the ride and come back for seconds, reading more of my books.
2) ‘The Shadow Tracer’ is your new standalone thriller. Whenever I read your novels I feel totally exhausted – they are so fast paced! How do you keep such a high velocity going in your novels whilst sitting tapping away on your keyboard? Are you fired on a lot of coffee?
Coffee and pounding music—Foo Fighters or the soundtrack to ‘Gladiator’ will do the trick. And remember, while I may look like I’m sitting there staring at a computer screen, I’m really gunning a pickup truck down a remote desert highway with hired killers and the FBI in pursuit. That’s the power of imagination.
3) Sarah is on the run from a family of fanatics called the Worthes. Where was your inspiration for such a horrendous and murderous network?
Warlords, crime families, and extremists infest human society. When a murderous clan becomes convinced that their goals are God-given, you get people like the Worthes. Have you read Jon Krakauer’s ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’? Self-declared prophets can do scary things.
4) Although I know this novel is classed as a standalone I really loved the character of the US Marshal, Michael Lawless. He is a great character, strong, good and mysterious. Do you think we will see him again?
Thank you! I’m glad Lawless connected with you. I shouldn’t even be telling people whether he survives the book, but I have to admit, I’d be happy to write more about him.
5) The latter part of ‘The Shadow Tracer’ tales place in a huge aircraft graveyard. Does such a fascinating place exist in the desert?
Absolutely—several aircraft graveyards exist in the southwestern USA. I’ve driven past the one in Mojave, California, on the way to China Lake (you might have seen it if you’ve watched the TV show ‘Mythbusters’). While researching the novel I came across video shot at a military airplane graveyard near Tucson, Arizona. Once I watched multi-ton guillotines chop the wings off B-52 bombers, I knew I wanted to write about such a place.
6) Sarah has a lot of technology back-up in case she ever has to go on the run. There was technology I have never heard of. Is this fact and if so, where on earth do you find out this sort of information? Are you ever tempted to try it out for yourself?
All the tech in the book is currently available on the market. As for being tempted to use it, let’s just say: if your phone rings one day and the caller ID says its 10 Downing Street… the person on the line who sounds like the Prime Minister could actually be me.
7) Have you finished with your other two main protagonists, Evan Delaney and Jo Beckett or do you think they will be back one day?
Jo and Evan have plenty of life in them. I don’t think their stories are over yet.
8) As an American living in the UK do you think it is an advantage to see the US from the outside? Or do you feel you’ve never been away long enough to get an outside perspective?
Moving away from home always provides a fresh perspective. It lets you see yourself and your country from new vantage points. As a writer, and a citizen, that’s extremely valuable.
9) What are you planning for your next novel?
Thrills, spills, murder, revenge, and some stunt driving in a Mini.
10) What would you say are the top three crime novels that have made a lasting impression on you?
‘A Is for Alibi’ by Sue Grafton

‘Gorky Park’ by Martin Cruz Smith

‘A Stained White Radiance’ by James Lee Burke

Great books, great writing, wonderful authors. They all inspired me.