All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Shadow Tracer – Meg Gardiner

on July 3, 2013

Shadow2The Shadow Tracer
Meg Gardiner
Penguin Books Aus
2013, 358p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Sarah Keller is a single mother living in Oklahoma, working as a skip tracer. When Sarah’s five year old daughter Zoe is in a bus accident going on a school excursion, the resulting tests turn up not only something very odd but also proof that Sarah cannot be Zoe’s biological mother. What Sarah has been hiding from for the past five years is now going to catch up with her and everything she holds dear is now in grave danger.

Sarah goes on the run with Zoe, an exhausting flee through the south west of the country, avoiding not only the demons on her tail but also the FBI who are willing to use her and Zoe as a means to a very convenient end. Sarah has prepared for this moment for five years but when it happens she finds that she is clueless as well. All her preparations may not be enough – she is fighting enemies that have much greater resources, that are driven and dedicated to finding what she has and bringing it home…or using it.

There’s one person that she might be able to trust to help her, someone that turned a blind eye five years ago But it’s going to require a big leap of faith and that’s not something Sarah has a lot of right now.

The Shadow Tracer is a book that sucks you right in from the very beginning. Sarah works as a bounty hunter/skip tracer, something that allows her to move around and keep off the grid. For five years she’s been looking over her shoulder and now it seems that the moment she has always feared has caught up with her when a relatively minor bus accident leads to the hospital discovering that Sarah cannot possibly be Zoe’s biological mother. They attempt to detain her but Sarah flees, knowing that if word gets out, if her name or Zoe’s name is mentioned anywhere in the press, they will come for her and her safety and Zoe’s will mean absolutely nothing to them.

Zoe is the granddaughter of a self-proclaimed prophet, who although in jail, still rules over his polygamous family with an iron fist. They make their fortune by crime and his eyes and ears are everywhere. They want Zoe – they have always wanted Zoe – but Sarah made a promise years ago that they would never be able to have her and she intends to keep it. She thought she has prepared for this day but it quickly becomes obvious that she’s not even close to ready. She needs an ally, someone she can trust to at least help her get a headstart and she turns to Michael Lawless, a US Marshal who once swore he’d help her.

I really found myself sympathising with Sarah and her desperate plight to keep Zoe safe. She was really just an ordinary person who had to put her life on hold and become something more than ordinary, someone that could sacrifice everything, someone that could flee at a moment’s notice but also someone that could fight as well. A child’s safety and future was at stake because if her father’s family got hold of her then Zoe would be subjected to a very different life than the one she’d been living with Sarah. But the clan have proved they’re willing to do anything to get Zoe back, including kill anyone that stands in their path and Sarah has to wonder what Zoe has that they’re willing to go to such lengths.

I loved the dynamic between Lawless and Sarah. He assisted her once before, years ago, in getting Zoe away as a baby but they haven’t had any contact since. When the clan are hot on Sarah’s tail, she makes a call to a number he told her he’d always be reachable on and he gives her some instructions and says he’ll be with her as soon as he can, going off the grid in this one. I actually had to look up precisely what a US Marshal is/does because I haven’t come across too many before and I could see how Michael might have been conflicted in the past with helping Sarah and how she might not be able to fully trust him now. Sarah also had an FBI agent on her who wanted nothing more than to use her as bait to lure the clan members out so that he could finally collar them for a bombing they carried out that took the life of someone he loved. The FBI agent actually really made me furious reading this book – for a long time you don’t know his motivation and why he’s so desperate to basically hang Sarah out to dry for things that are clearly ambiguous. He puts her in danger and recklessly endangers the lives of others around him, including several other bureau members and local police. He underestimates the clan, which is something that Lawless doesn’t do. I thought Sarah’s wariness was well played against Lawless and his desire to help and I really wanted him to be the ‘good guy’, the one who was left standing at the end so that he and Sarah could so obviously do something with that subtle chemistry!

This book gave me more than I was expecting (in a good way) and I think that’s probably one of the best things you can say when looking back on a novel. I didn’t expect the depth of gritty character in Sarah, the way in which I would really identify with her. It’s a steady paced thriller that really does keep you involved right until the very end – the clan was suitably creepy, some of the so called good guys not particularly so and one of the ‘bad’ guys in particular had a humanising motivation and a moment at the end which called for my sympathy. I will definitely be seeking more from this author.


Book #165 of 2013

2 responses to “The Shadow Tracer – Meg Gardiner

  1. […] read thriller The Shadow Tracer by Meg Gardiner last year so when I saw her latest book, I had to read it! She writes really tight […]

  2. KINDLE BOOKS says:

    […] read thriller The Shadow Tracer by Meg Gardiner last year so when I saw her latest book, I had to read it! She writes really tight […]

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