Shadow Man is a good book with strong plotting and relatively strong characterisation. Unfortunately, it did not stand above the herd of books in this genre sufficiently to garner anything more than 3 stars from me even though I did enjoy reading it.
Our main protagonist, Ben, has moved back to his home town to get away from the violence of Los Angeles but it seems it may have followed him. Whilst Ben is busy bemoaning his marriage breaking up and the erosion of the Cowboy way of life in the canyons the Night Prowler is making his way down the Pacific Coast Highway and striking at random in quiet planned communities on it's path.
So far so good, if a little trite in places. At least Ben appears to be a troubled cop with a lowercase t rather than the more standard uppercase one. He is maintaining a relationship with his family and doesn't appear to be alcoholic (although he has flirted with it). Then he finds an illegal Mexican shot in the back of the head in a strawberry field and this leads him back into his own past (cue descent in to Troubled).
Although the themes explored are handled well and the writing has good flow and cadence it still feels all a little contrived. Too much angst from Ben about his past and his decisions start to look more and more like those of a maverick cop. We have more than a surfeit of those in this genre and it would have been nice to have a more balanced character at the helm.
The resolution of the book is not a cliched one and is paced correctly for maximum reader satisfaction. The villain of the piece is described with some amount of empathy so he is not just a stereotype from the writer's handbook - I just wasn't convinced that either Ben or the Night Prowler could have made their way up the steep canyon side in their respective conditions.
Overall this is not a bad book but neither is it a great book. It is a good book within it's genre and you won't feel cheated reading I was just, somehow, left expecting more from it.