The Shadow People
A riveting, twisty psychological thriller from acclaimed author Joe Clifford, perfect for fans of The Whisper Man
Brandon Cossey is finishing his last semester as an undergrad when he learns his childhood best friend, Jacob Balfour, has committed suicide. The news about Jacob, who had long battled schizophrenia, does not come as a surprise—but the bizarre details surrounding his death do. Jacob was found several states away, in a quarry, burned alive. Brandon returns to his hometown and discovers Jacob had been moonlighting as an amateur DIY reporter. As sole author and editor of the homemade zine Illuminations, Jacob has been covering a wide array of conspiracy theories. When Jacob’s estranged grandfather, Francis, who also suffers from schizophrenia (but chooses to go untreated), arrives for the funeral, he tells Brandon that Jacob didn’t kill himself; Jacob stumbled upon a secret so deadly he was murdered to keep it quiet.
Soon afterwards, Brandon’s life takes a turn for the strange. He notices odd cars and lookalikes following him, his personal property is hacked and stolen, and Brandon can no longer trust what he thinks he sees. As his grasp on reality recedes and falters, Brandon must question whether a sinister gang of doppelgängers, whom Jacob dubbed “the Shadow People,” are really responsible. Events conspire to put Brandon on the road with Francis, as the unlikely duo travel across the upper Midwest attempting to learn the truth about Jacob’s death.
Part conspiracy thriller, part horror noir, The Shadow People mines the rich depths of perception and paranoia, asking the tough question: when you can’t believe yourself, who can you trust?
College student Brandon Cossey, the narrator of this impressive thriller from Thriller Award finalist Clifford (The Lakehouse), gets a call from his friend Jacob Balfour's mother informing him that Jacob, who's mentally ill, has disappeared from their hometown of Utica, N.Y. This news sends Brandon racing back to Utica, plagued by guilt for neglecting Jacob after going to college. In his friend's bedroom, Brandon is unsettled to find a pile of homemade magazines, titled Illuminations, containing Jacob's conspiracy rants about the moon landing, alien lizards controlling the U.S. government, and "a sinister race of doppelg ngers, plants sent to spy on us from netherworlds and report back" called the Shadow People. The stakes rise after Brandon learns that Jacob's body was found in a Minnesota quarry, with a fatal puncture wound to his stomach, and Jacob's grandfather shows up to suggest that the Shadow People really exist. Clifford does a great job of facilitating engagement with his lead and at tossing in satisfying twists. Blake Crouch fans should take note. gent: James McGowan, BookEnds Literary.
One of the best books I’ve read this year.