Review: The Shadow Tracer by Meg Gardiner


Title: The Shadow Tracer

Author: Meg Gardiner

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin Australia June 2013

Read an Extract

Status: Read from June 21 to 22, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Shadow Tracer is a rare stand alone thriller from author Meg Gardiner who is best known for her popular series, one which features Jo Beckett, a forensic psychologist, and the other, Evan Delany a journalist with a law degree.

The protagonist in The Shadow Trace is skip tracer, Sarah Keller. Since the night Sarah sister was murdered and she was forced to flee with her newborn niece, Sarah has been careful to remain off the grid. For five years she has been living under an alias, raising Zoe as her own, staying one step ahead of the violent, criminal cult that want to claim Zoe for the family when a minor accident, which leads to Zoe being hospitalised for treatment, uncovers a shocking secret and with their cover threatened, Sarah is forced to take Zoe and run.

The cult wants Zoe not only because she is family and therefore one of God’s ‘chosen people’ but also because she is unknowingly a key to part of their criminal enterprises. Without the intervention of a rogue FBI agent with vengeance on his mind, Sarah and Zoe may have stood a chance of escaping the clan’s assassins but Agent Harker’s single minded agenda complicates everything.

Sarah is uniquely placed to avoid the attention of those who are pursuing her and Zoe having spent her years on the run working as a skip tracer. There is just enough character development to make sense of Sarah’s motivations. I really liked the way in which she was portrayed as capable, resourceful and fiercely protective of Zoe. Yet despite the burner phones and untraceable pre-paid credit cards, with both the clan and the FBI hunting her, Sarah is forced to reach out to US Marshal Michael Lawless, despite being wary of him and his motives.

Though the plot isn’t entirely credible, the breathless pace overrides any real concerns. With the feel of a movie script due to several cinematic action scenes including a brutal murder in an isolated farmhouse during a snow storm, a dangerous car chase along a freeway and a final bloody confrontation in an airplane graveyard, The Shadow Tracer is an action packed thrill ride. The villains are suitably scary given their amoral and relentless, deadly pursuit of a an innocent five year old. And though the focus is firmly on the the frantic action, Gardiner still finds the time to introduce a subtle element of romance, or at least chemistry, between Sarah and Lawless.

This stand alone novel should be welcomed by Gardiner’s fans and tempt new readers to delve into her backlist. The Shadow Tracer is an entertaining, action driven thriller from an author Stephen King endorses as a ‘suspense superstar’.

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