Fresh Blood

Name: Cody McFadyen

Title of Book: Shadow Man

'Shadow Man is a dark novel. Very dark, and very scary…'

Smoky Barrett is an FBI Agent who has been dealing with the memory of being raped by the maniac who also savagely murdered her own family. Just when Smoky is on the threshold of going back to what she does best - hunting depraved serial killers - she gets a message that could put her straight back to square one. A killer calling himself Jack Jr. has raped and murdered Smoky’s best friend, then tied the woman’s daughter to her corpse for three days.

It is not long before the race is on and other members of Smoky’s team start getting threats to their nearest and dearest. It is a chace to the finish with no one knowing who is likely to be the winner. How many women will Jack Jr. kill before, like his predecessor, he feels he has properly done his work? Smoky pulls out all the stops to catch this man who is playing around with her life, and those she loves. Soon she will be face to face to the man who has been leading her a merry dance and it is then that she learns he knows her a lot more intimately than she thought…

Shadow Man is a dark novel. Very dark, and very scary… One that really revels in the gory and dark reaches of the imagination. I have read a fair number of this type of novel and some work and some haven’t. It did take me a while to enter the world of Shadow Man, as it isn’t exactly an enlightening read – but then it isn’t supposed to be. It is very dark at the beginning when the author is showing us Smoky’s pain at being raped and losing her family to a killer she was hunting down. McFadyen makes sure we can feel Smoky’s pain and suicidal tendencies.

It is some time before the killer strikes for the first time and only then does the reader feel they are travelling on familiar territory and finally getting down to the bones of the matter – joining in the hunt for a sadistic maniac who says he is a direct descendant from Jack the Ripper. This is where this author excels and cranks up the tension as each new letter, email or other correspondence is sent to Agent Barrett - with more threats of the same to follow. Jack Jr. feels that Smoky is his Abberline and this brings the Ripper idea full circle.

The denouement isn’t that surprising and I suppose that any crime reader worth their salt will guess the identity of Jack Jr. However, that’s not the point here, as any policeman or Federal Agent will tell you, it is the chase that is always the most thrilling part of the investigation. The writing and chapters are clipped and short and give the reader the sense of genuine urgency to race to the end of this book. Shadow Man is certainly not a book anyone should read alone late at night but it is definitely a well-written first novel.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) Crime novels encompass many sub-genres and styles. How would you describe your book?
I think it is a thriller with a brain. The who-done-it aspect is there, but that’s not the most important part of the book. The chase itself, and its effect on the characters, is the defining aspect and the source of the suspense in the book.
2) What type of crime novels do you prefer? Do you prefer series or standalone?
I actually enjoy them both so long as they’re engaging. I do love a good series though, where you get to know the characters and care about the arc of their personal life.
3) Have you had the idea of writing a crime novel for some time?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was ten. In my teens, I was very much a fantasy and science fiction reader, and while I still enjoy those genres, I got interested in crime/thrillers/suspense in my early 20’s and that stuck.

99% of what I read now is crime related, and has been for years, so when I sat down to write, that’s what was on my mind.
4) Who or what influenced you to write a crime novel in the first place?
I honestly think just the fact that I read in the genre so actively. I love crime fiction and I read pretty voraciously. When I find an author I really like, I go out and buy everything by them I can find and then just burn through it all.
5) Smoky Barrett is a damaged individual who has been raped and had her family violently taken from her by a maniac. Why did you choose such a damaged lead character to front a team of people hunting after disturbed serial killers?
I’ve always been fascinated by the theme of personal adversity. I’ve had occasion to witness adversity at various levels of society for various reasons in my life, and I’ve always found the most compelling, universal and inspiring story to be that of the individual who succeeds ‘in spite of.’

So that fascination was already in evidence when I sat down to write Shadow Man and I think Smoky sprang from there. She emerged pretty much fully formed; it didn’t take a lot of consideration or effort on my part to write her or to understand her personality or motivations.

She’s a fictional character, of course, but as mentioned above, the universal aspect of her overcoming of despair has resonated with some people that experienced true despair in their lives. I won’t violate their confidence with specifics here, but I’ve gotten letters from some amazing individuals, people who have overcome rape, or the loss of a child, or physical abuse.

I wanted to write a character that the reader could care about.
6) You appear to have an understanding of FBI protocol. Have you done extensive research in this area to give your novels and the characters a clear sense of reality?
I did a lot of research, though it was all fairly book and internet oriented. There’s an amazing amount of information out there on just about anything if you’re willing to look. I don’t have any personal ‘ins’ with anyone in the FBI.
7) The killer Smoky’s team are hunting calls himself Jack Jr., after Jack the Ripper. Does the Ripper hold a particular fascination for you - and is that why you worked it within your novel?
Sure, of course, though not just the Ripper, per se. I think that it is the ‘uncaught’ serial killers that fascinate me the most, and I doubt I’m alone in that. Jack the Ripper is kind of an original, not the first serial killer, obviously, but the first I’m aware of to gain notoriety via the media (newspapers at the time).

The Zodiac is another example, as well as the whole Black Dahlia affair. The idea that someone could achieve such infamy and get away with it is a pretty disturbing concept. It tends to stick.
8) You describe Smoky and some of her partners boarding the ‘Dark Train’. Is this a metaphor you imagined to describe the team on the trail of their murderer or is it a phrase that people use who actually deal with these killers?
I’m not aware of anyone using this phrase – and I doubt they do. It came to me as I wrote it, an unexpected thing.
9) Would you describe yourself specifically as a Crime fan and, if so, which classic and current authors do you most admire?
Crime/thriller/suspense, yes. I am appreciative of the classics (Holmes, anyone?) though I don’t read them much these days.

My current and constant favourites tend to be: Greg Iles, David Baldacci, Carol O’Connell, Robert B Parker, John Connolly and many many others.
10) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
Oh, gosh, this is an impossible question for me to answer. I would say two writers who’ve written things I was most envious of, as a writer, would be John Connolly and Greg Iles. I remember reading some of their books, shaking my head and going ‘I’ll never write anything this good!’
11) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
Again, such a difficult question. I really view movies and novels differently. I have a much higher expectation when it comes to books, and I am a total glutton for punishment when it comes to movies. I’ll watch anything and like it unless it’s really, really, really bad.

For example, I went and watched ‘Hostel’ with tremendous enthusiasm, but on the other side of things, I also enjoyed ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ for it’s satiric message and consider ‘Beckett’ one of the best movies ever made.

A lot of people hated ‘Hannibal’ as a movie, whereas I thought it was a kind of surrealistic visual triumph.

However, in the spirit of the question, I suppose if you put a gun to my head and I had to pick, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ is probably the most skilful and accurate adaptation from a book.