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Sunday, September 6, 2020


You need to pay attention to the detail, and even then, you will be surprised, perhaps shocked by the outcome. (Review by Christine E Hann)

The Shadow Friend is Alex North’s second book. His first book is The Whisper Man.

Alex North was born in Leeds, where he lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and worked at the University before becoming a writer. His first book was widely published and became a best seller.

The Shadow Friend is set in the little town of Gritten. For my part it can best be described as a psychological thriller, full of suspense, with a creepy haunting atmosphere. The author moves from the past, when the first crime happened, to the present, and back, then forwards. You need to pay attention to the detail, and even then, you will be surprised, perhaps shocked by the outcome.

25 years ago, Paul Adams lived in the town of Gritten, where he went to school. His home backed onto the woods. He didn’t have many friends, some of them were stranger than others. In his group was an intense boy called Charlie Crabtee. Paul also became friends with Jenny, who shared his passion for books, and unusual stories and stores for that matter. James was a quieter friend, desperate to fit in, easily influenced by Charlie. His home also backed onto the woods.

 One day, 25 years earlier, a shocking crime was committed in Gritten by Charlie, an event that changed Paul’s life for ever. He was friends with the murderer, and the victim! He was even suspected of committing the crime – his mother stood up for him as she ought to have. To add to the madness, Charlie vanished, never to be seen again. What was that flickering in the woods that Paul’s mother had seen?

Paul could not forgive himself for his part in the crime. He left town and his family to study as soon as he could, and never came back again to visit them. But, 25 years later, his mother is ill, confused and failing, and Paul finds himself back in Gritten, staying in his old home. But something or someone else is there, too.

Another murder happens in a small town. Is there a copycat killer, is there a link, is Charlie Crabtree still alive, with a following? Does Red Hands really exist? What happened on that terrible day 25 years ago in Gritten? So many questions, has Paul lost his mind?

Detective Amanda Beck – who also features in The Whisper Man – is assigned the case, and follows it to the end, working through ghosts of her own to unravel the mystery.

Read on and see if you can work it out, if you are brave enough, that is. - Christine E Hann

The Shadow Friend is published by Penguin Random House UK – 2020 ISBN: 9781405939287