Summary: Can a person ever really disappear for good by going off the grid? And what happens when vanishing is no longer an option? Sarah Keller is a single mother to five-year-old Zoe, living quietly in Oklahoma. She’s also a skip tracer, an expert in tracking people who’ve gone on the lam to avoid arrest, prosecution, or debt—pinpointing their locations to bring them to justice. When a school bus accident sends Zoe to the ER, their quiet life explodes. Zoe’s medical tests reveal what Sarah has been hiding: Zoe is not her daughter. Zoe’s biological mother—Sarah’s sister, Beth—was murdered shortly after the child’s birth. And Zoe’s father is missing and presumed dead. With no way to prove her innocence, Sarah must abandon her carefully constructed life and go on the run. Chased by cops, federal agents, and the group responsible for Beth’s murder, Sarah embarks on a desperate journey. Can her knowledge as a skip tracer help her stay off the grid, remain one step ahead of her pursuers, and find a way to save her daughter? Meg Gardiner is acclaimed for her richly drawn characters, propulsive plotting, relentless suspense, and shocking twists. The Shadow Tracer delivers on those fronts and more. ~us.penguingroup.com
Jenn's Review: I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy of this book. It's no secret that we love Meg Gardiner's books here on the blog. Her writing just pulls you in and doesn't let go. The Shadow Tracer is no different.
This one was hard for me to get into because, knowing the subject matter and knowing Meg Gardiner as an author, I knew what I was in for. She makes you love her characters, but there is no guaranteed safety for anyone in her books. There are very few authors who write thrillers that actually make me anxious, but Meg Gardiner is one of them. Once, she hooked me, though, I couldn't set it down.
In a way this book reminded me of the first Evan Delaney novel, China Lake, with it's crazy religious cults going after children. But that's where the comparison ends. Sarah Keller is much more raw and far more desperate than Evan. This is something that Sarah has been preparing for since the moment she rescued Zoe. I love that she is determined to do things on her own, but knows when she's over her head. I loved Danisha and how she stuck by Sarah and I loved Theresa too, who took it upon herself to help Sarah even when she knew what she was getting into.
No one twists a story like Meg Gardiner and there are plenty of good twists. The vigilante FBI agent was a destabilizing element that just kept rolling. His lack of grip was both gut wrenching and horrifying all at the same time, like a walking time-bomb. The climax of the novel is intense. Then, as always, just when you think things are wrapped up neatly, Meg Gardiner unfolds a little more, to leave things a bit open ended.
The Shadow Tracer kept me riveted. Meg Gardiner is a master of suspense and she pulls me in every time. I look forward to each new novel and once again, I can't wait for the next. If you love thrillers, give her a try. You won't be disappointed.
Jenn's Final Take: 4.75/5
Julie's Review: Here's the thing about Meg Gardiner books, you won't want to put them down and they always have a strong and yet vulnerable women as the protagonist. In The Shadow Tracer, that female is Sarah Keller and she quickly has to try to outrun a religious cult family. As always, this one starts off quickly and never lets up. Not even the last line stops with the adrenaline.
Sarah Keller may be on the run but she's not without asking for help. Even if she didn't ask for it she was going to get it from her boss Danisha and the man who saved her life 5 years ago, Michael Lawless. (God, that's a clever name). She also takes command of her situation and wants to try to write her own outcome.
The setting is perfect for this novel. It brings the foreboding to a new level. There's something solemn about an airplane graveyard that makes you a little more on edge for the climax of the novel. Not only that but the villains are hideous individuals. They think they are doing the glory of God but really they are working for a crazed mad man who is behind bars. Not only that but you also have a loose cannon of an FBI agent working the case. He's got a vendetta and will use Sarah to exact his revenge.
The Shadow Tracer is a fast-paced thriller that will have you hanging on to the edge of whatever piece of furniture you read on. If you haven't read Meg Gardiner, what are you waiting for?
Julie's Final Take: 4.75/5
Thanks to Dutton Books for our copies!