I have heard it said that everyone has a twin, someone somewhere that looks like them that would confuse their own family. A doppelganger is the word often used to describe this phenomenon. What happens when that other someone pretends to be you? Or what if instead of a doppelganger, someone who is a whiz at disguise decides to impersonate? How long would it take those closest to you to know? If this person had an agenda, one to set you up for horrific deeds, how would you fight what looks to be so real on the outside?
In Shadow Man by Mark Murphy, we are drawn into a psychological thriller that details a strange, yet surreal killer. A man who can choose at will to become someone else.
When Malcolm King finds his perfect life beginning to fall apart, he does not anywhere to turn. He sees a shadow at every turn, mocking and terrorizing him. When he finds he is the prime suspect in the murder of a rival, he is not sure what to do. All of a sudden his perfect life, his medical practice and his family are in the balance. Who is the figure hovering in the shadows, the Thin Man as he begins to see him more? Is he the killer, the one creating the nightmare that is now a part of Malcolm’s life? When he is warned by a good friend that the police are ready to make an arrest, he decides to run for his life. There is not one shred of proof that he is innocent.
As he tries to disappear, he finds he is in trouble–there are police everywhere. When the Thin Man steps out of the shadows to offer assistance, can Malcolm trust him? He must find a way to clear himself of these fictitious charges. As the Thin Man tells his own story, Malcolm has to make a choice. He must trust him or be branded a murderer for life.
Can this stranger be the savior of his sanity and his life? Time will only tell as the killing becomes even more brutal. When his family disappears, and another friend is attacked, he forms an uneasy alliance with a man he does not know or trust. But what else can he do?
Murphy has pulled the monster from our nightmares and put him into our daily life. This strangely twisted mind is walking among us, with no one the wiser. His crimes are horrific and the way he is able to create chaos is mind numbing. You can feel a chill as you step into the mind of Malcolm and the terror he is living becomes your own.
The scenarios, and the motivation are strange and carry a hint of madness, yet that is to be expected in the mind of a murderer. The Thin Man is an artful twist to the story and one that gives it a strangely spiritual twist, although I am not sure that is what was meant. While there is nothing spiritual about the story, the entry of this persona lends another level, one of calm yet enduring pain as well. The depth of deceit is surprising; the exhaustion created in the minds of those impacted is inconsolable.
The story moves quickly and is full of action, some horror filled and some more uplifting. Yet it marches deliberately towards the strange and yet somewhat mysterious ending. The conclusion is satisfying, yet adds another layer of mystery that makes you want more.
If you love a good thriller you will enjoy this book, the suspense and unknown draw you deeper into a pool of mystery that is not that easy to decipher. A great read for a reading group, this would also be an excellent addition to your library. Murphy is a writer of note, one you will see more from.