Max Overton’s graphic paranormal thriller, A Cry of Shadows, is one of those books that I loved, and was compelled to obsessively read late into the night, and devoured every word all the way to the last page, but at the same time I was sickened by it, as I am with any well-written violent thriller I read. The queasiness I felt derived from the graphic nature of the multiple murders, each of which are presented in gruesome detail. I also found myself cringing at the insightful looks Overton gives his reader into the twisted minds of the book’s two different killers—one driven by violent passions and the other by an ego that rationalizes murder as a disagreeable necessity. The reader gets to know these two villains better than any other characters in the story, and the author handles the changes in perspective flawlessly. This is quite a feat because one minute the reader is suffering in the perspective of a murder victim as she is killed, and the next minute we are riding away with the killer in his Camero, and the next minute we are in Australia visiting with the mad scientist again. I usually don’t like books that shift perspective so quickly but this one I did. The author is clearly a master of his craft.
Overton’s hero, an emotionally damaged and aging Illinois cop who likes driving fast in his Mini-Cooper, is suitably nuanced and intelligent for a lead detective in a police novel like this. We don’t get to know Barnes as well as we do the novel’s bad guys, but Barnes is likable enough and does his job well in spite of the usual bureaucratic pressures that weigh against him. Overton has certainly done his research into police procedures and forensics. His descriptive strengths and excellent research make this book even more realistic and enjoyable for those interested in police procedurals.
For those readers who just like a good story well told, you won’t go wrong either with A Cry of Shadows. The book left me awed at the author’s formidable powers of description and his ability to weave a straightforward, compelling narrative out of such a varied mix of completely different characters. I found myself as completely absorbed in one villain’s world of Australian academia as I was in the other killer’s job at Walmart. In the non-violent parts, I found myself often smiling at Overton’s creative turns of phrase. My favorite was: “Is there any water, Bill? My throat feels like the bottom of a bird cage.”
A fully enjoyable thriller for those who don’t mind (or are interested in) real gritty violence, who enjoy scientifically-realistic paranormal plots, and who appreciate excellent writing. Highly recommended.
- Paperback: 347 pages
- Publisher: Writers Exchange E-Publishing (15 July 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1925574563
- ISBN-13: 978-1925574562
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 603 g
- Customer Reviews: 3 customer ratings