on October 29, 2009
A former NYPD cop Finn teaches literature at the prestigious Upstate New York St. Valarian's Academy for Girls. Finn finds it ironic that his students wonder how he keeps his collection of books so brand new conceding how easy it is to maintain a pristine collection when you are blind. He has a relationship with Roz the nurse and muses over the crushes his students have on him except for Vi who he and the dean Judith worry about; he also wonders about his former wife Danielle.
Christmas empties the school leaving a few loners with no place to go behind. A blizzard further isolates those still at the academy including Finn. However, the nurse and a student seem to have vanished. Almost immediately afterward, two thugs arrive demanding Finn pay his debt or else. As he fears for those trapped inside the school, he thinks of his detective partner Ray and how many ways he would relish killing him, but for now must somehow deal with the "ill will" of a killer leaving dead students and faculty in his or her wake.
This is an exciting action-packed thriller that hooks the audience from the moment Finn begins his musing and never slows down as the readers wonders why someone is mass murdering those trapped at the school. The story line is fast-paced once the characters are set and never slows down until the anticipated final confrontation with the ill wind and the academy's champion, a sort of good vs. evil battle on a small scale. SHADOW SEASON is an engaging tense tale as Tom Piccirilli provides a superb suspenseful story.
on July 20, 2014
I did not have to spend a lot of time with this book to really dislike it. Not that it is poorly written, or dull, or offensive, it is just fairly difficult to orient yourself in. From the first sentence I wondered who was talking, what he was talking about, what was going on, why was the author saying this...
If you enjoy being dropped into a novel in what many authors might make the middle of the book, and if you enjoy a read which is like waking up in mid dream, you may indeed love this.
But if you are of the more straightforward persuasion and want stories to start at the beginning with some exposition of setting and character, you may, like me, really dislike it.
I think it may be trying to be both a literary fiction and an action book and for me, it did not work
on August 6, 2010
Tom Piccirilli drags you out into the darkness, out into the cold, and then leaves you to find your way home with nothing more than courage. This tale is made for winter--made for a late night's reading. Chances are--you'll finish this slim book in a sitting (minus a trip to the teapot). Told entirely from the POV of a blind cop-turned-teacher, Pic shows that there are no limits to what he can do with words. It's cold. It's isolated. It's claustrophobic. Step into the darkness...
It's not every author who can write a book in which 99% of it takes place in a single day, and still hold the reader's interest. Piccarilli has done just that with 'Shadow Season'. Meet Finn, a blind ex-cop now literature professor in a small town girl's school called St. Val's. Buried deep in rural hill country, the upper-echelon school girls mingle with the "Hollar folk" who populate the woods surrounding the tiny town. It's Christmas break, and most of the girl's have left the school for home vacations, but a few stay behind; including Violet, a young woman who has a rumored scandal with Finn. Finn has a thing with Roz, the school's nurse, who came with him to St. Vals and comes from his mysterious past with him.
Finn is blind, from a mysterious accident during his days on the force. 'Shadow Season' has you unfolding pages at a rapid pace just to find out Finn's past and why he's blind ... but that's only one reason for page turning.
As the day unfolds into a day of terror piled upon current events and past musings, the pieces will try to fall into place as Finn must put two and two together. How much of it is now and how much is the past? The catalyst is a strange, wounded hollar girl showing up in the snow as Finn makes his way through the raging blizzard. Her name is Harley Moon, and she issues dire warning to Finn, but her words are buried in riddles. Then the book really picks up the pace.
'Shadow Season' is a dark, mysterious read that has you turning pages rapidly, needing to find out more about Finn and the circumstances of the school, the girls, and the staff; and how all will correlate with his past. Chapters alternating between past and present tease you into continuing to read through the night. The ending is high octane and holds an unforgettable surprise. Piccarilli creates a languid tension in 'Shadow Season' that leaves a little lump in your throat as you read. His characters are fully fleshed and so likeable you can't stop reading about them.
The unique style of the book combined with Piccarilli's talent won't leave you disappointed. The style is a breath of fresh air and the content as gripping as a boa around your neck. Horror lovers and Suspense lovers alike should NOT miss out on this tasty treat. Piccarilli earns a solid 5 stars for this magnificent piece of literature. Enjoy!
on July 27, 2012
You know anything from Tom Piccirilli is going to be a good read and this is no different. It's about an ex-cop named Finn who now teaches at an exclusive school for girls. Interspersed through the narretive is the backstory of the conflict between him and his old partner Ray. His past and present are about to collide in a bloody way.
Part one of Shadow Season starts a little slow without much action. Once you get to part two though the suspense really starts to build. By part three you are rocketing toward the deadly ending. Piccirilli is a fantastic storyteller and one of the top suspense writers around. Shadow Season will have you reading the last half of the book in one sitting.
on March 6, 2010
Shadow Season is a taut, slow-burning thriller that's been written for the pure enjoyment of the reader, and Tom Piccirilli is just the author who can do it and make the whole process look effortless.
The lead character in this novel is Finn, a former NYPD officer who discovered that his partner and best friend was on the take with the New York City mob. To make matters worse, the discovery of his partner's crime led to the murder of Finn's wife and to his own attempt at suicide, which leaves the honest cop blind and unable to continue with his career in law enforcement. Finn has now moved on to teaching and works at a private, upstate school for the daughters of extremely wealthy families. This Christmas, when most of the faculty and students have gone home for the holidays, Finn will find himself dealing with a blinding snowstorm (no pun intended)that cuts the school off from the rest of the world. There's no way out and no cell phone service. Through the falling snow are coming two vicious killers who think Finn has cheated them out of drug money. Finn, however, knows nothing about them or why they're so intent on getting to him. Before the ultimate confrontation with our blind school teacher, the two men will enjoy themselves with a little rape and murder of those closest to him, invoking within this soul-searching character a hate-filled rage he hasn't experienced in years. Needless to say, before the snowstorm is over, Finn will have to use his special skills with a knife to save himself and those still alive at the school, and this is something he's actually looking forward to!
Tom Piccirilli is always at his best when writing about the lone wolf who has to kill in order to survive against odds no Las Vegas bookie would even think of taking. In fact, I don't think there's another author out there who's capable of creating such stark, vivid, and compelling characters, not to mention the dark ambiance of imminent death and excitement of cut-throat survival that Mr. Piccirilli captures in each of his mesmerizing books. This is an author who cuts his sentences down to the bare bone and then feeds them to the reader, daring him to stop what he's doing even for a desperate bathroom break. Such precision in writing and clear understanding of humanity within his character development is the work of a master craftsman, and that's what Tom Piccirilli is. He's a pro at work, and you don't mess with a pro.
Shadow Season is certainly a first-hand example of writing at its best and displays the supreme talent of an author who's destined for great things. Buy it and read it, then get yourself copies of The Cold Spot and The Coldest Mile. You won't be disappointed!
on April 3, 2015
This book is another example of how great of an author Piccirilli is. The story is solid and riveting. At the halfway point, things got so good that I couldn't put the book down. I was just getting off a plane during the last thirty minutes; if it was up to me, I would have sat down at am empty gate and finished the book instead of heading to my destination.
The story itself follows Finn, an ex-cop who was blinded and is now teaching English at a girl's private school in upstate New York. Over Christmas break when all but a handful of students and teachers are gone, violence seeks Finn out and forces him to confront his and others' secrets. The source of the violence is new but the ghosts from his past are not. The book follows this unveiling by alternating some chapters between the past and the present. Giving us the opportunity to see exactly how one is affecting the other.
One of the things that I really liked was how the reasoning and actions from the first half of the book made no sense; then all the puzzle pieces started coming together and it was one shocking revelation after another. It was these revelations that kept me sucked in and wouldn't let go. Well, that plus the strong, believable characters, the moody scenes and raw emotion of everyone just trying to deal with life. SHADOW SEASON is a beautifully written, intensely thrilling novel. It also should be read by every thriller fan out there. So go buy it already and enjoy!
on August 18, 2010
4 AND 1/2 STARS.
Shadow Season is another brilliant novel by suspense and thriller author Tom Piccirilli. The insight and depth in which he writes about his characters are so raw that, at times, it is painful to read (in a good way, of course). I am constantly blown away by his poetic prose and the layers of psychology he uses to flesh out his characters.
While I became a fan of Piccirilli from his days writing horror, I've grown to appreciate his versatility as a writer of thrillers and crime fiction, particularly the crime noir genre. This guy has it down perfectly and you wonder at times who exactly he hangs around to get details this authentic. He's just that good.
Although nearly perfect, I thought Shadow Season had just a bit too much emphasis devoted to characterization and the lead character's inner thoughts and not enough on story and plot. Those elements of the book were not as nicely balanced as in some of the author's other stories, but that's a minor gripe. A 9.5 out of 10 is certainly nothing frown upon.
It is clear through his writing that Piccirilli is heads and tails better than 98% of other writers in the same genre. He is one of the few authors I read that consistently produce top levels of breathtaking fiction every time out. His distinct voice is like no one I've ever read. Like a scene from a Scorsese movie, you can read one paragraph from a Piccirilli novel and know exactly who wrote it. This book gets one of my highest recommendations.
on December 31, 2009
Sometimes surrealistically silly.
I first discovered TomPic some years ago when he was writing literary cult horror. Was absolutely blown away by Hexes...you know, you expect cult horror to be puerile, fun but dumb. And here's this guy I had never heard of writing these amazing sentences in this over the top brilliant prose. Well, I was sold. Since then, I have read everything TomPic has written, and while he has segued from cult horror into noir thrillers with his own brand of black humour, the excellence of the writing and the stories has never wavered. In fact, I would not hesitate to say that he just keeps getting better.
Another thing that has not changed is the absolute focus on one individual, in all of the books. Always a guy, always beaten and bruised and damaged beyond human endurance. And yet, they not only keep on going, they are thrust into yet even more dire circumstances requiring yet more sacrifice and strength. But, because these guys are always intrinsically ethical and simply good, they fight the good fight and usually win, if not for themselves, at least for others. Oh, boy, I'll tell you, some of these stories have caused me to scream in frustration, or to weep in empathy. They are that compelling.
Okay. Onward. Do I have to tell you about this one? Our anti-hero is Finn. Within the first two pages, we learn that Finn is a teacher at a girls'private and rather upscale school. This is Finn: "He's got to keep himself busy, has to play these sorts of marginal games to constantly keep himself aware that he hasn't vanished."
I think that tells us a great deal about the man. He is also hyper aware of the smell of blood, which sends him into memory tunnels. Finn is blind. We don't know how or why, but it is recent. He has also lost his wife, the love of his life. The hows and whys are also unknown. All we know is that he's a blind guy working at this school as an English teacher. And, he must be pretty hunky since the girls really like him, and at least one has been somehow involved intimately with him. We learn this rather peripherally. We don't know exactly what went on, but he has to be careful. Has been warned.
Now, here is something very interesting. We learn about Finn's previous life through his vistas of the people he now knows. He sees them as characters from his life as a cop. As friends or perps or, whatever. So, while these are flashbacks, they don't just pop in there with no purpose. Finn is remembering. And as he remembers, we have two congruent stories going on which eventually collide. Something bad is going on at the school, something other than the really bad storm. People are disappearing and a strange girl from "the holler" tells Finn to "Get his house in order." He has no idea as to what she is talking about, but eventually puts it all together.
This is a brilliant book which I chewed up and swallowed in four or five hours. Then I reread it just in order to get it all. It just doesn't get much better than this. And, I'll tell you... if you read as much as I do, you may forget the story itself, but you never forget the characters. Tom Piccirilli's greatest strength, despite the terrific writing (which, I have to tell you, is never contrived nor fanciful, always from the gut) and the great stories, lies in his anti-heroes. They just tear you apart, take you to places you can hope you never have to go.
Finn is a former NY cop who is haunted by the incident that left him blind and his wife, Danielle, dead.
He works as a professor at an exclusive girl's school. St. Valarian's Academy for girls is located a half hour out of Manhattan.
The story centers on events during the Christmas vacation when the campus is mostly deserted. The only other male on the school grounds is an Irishman named Murphy, also called Murph. He has a bad shoulder and, to the blind Finn, Murph "...smells of shaving leather and whiskey." Murph serves as the groundskeeper at the school.
Although blinded, Finn's other senses are heightened and one night, during a heavy snow storm, he discovers a town girl who has been injured. Harley Moon had been moaning when Finn comes upon her at the grave yard. He brings her to his room to bandage her wounds. While being treated, Harley tells him not to call the police but at the same time warns him that he is in danger. Then she leaves.
The author uses flashbacks to allow the reader to learn of Finn and his former partner, Ray. When Finn was on the police force, there were a number of police offiers who were being paid off by a criminal named Carlyle. We find what part Ray had in this crime. We also come to know that Ray is jealous of Finn and is untrustworthy.
A number of the female students are having a Christmas party with some alcohol that has been smuggled into the school. Finn is considered to be a pal and is invited. As the party progresses, they notice that one of the girls isn't there and Finn goes after the missing student.
The suspense is well done and the author does a good job in describing how a person who cannot see might be able to defend himself.
The setting was well described and I enjoyed the story and the manner in which Finn overcame his handicap.