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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written and sadistic whodunit
Article first published as Book Review: The Shepherd by Ethan Cross on Blogcritics.

Can evil flourish without goodness? Is it possible to be a murderer and yet not be evil? Often what lurks inside the mind makes the difference. In The Shepherd by Ethan Cross, we meet evil head on in his serial killer, Francis Ackerman. Cold and cunning, ruthless and bold, he...
Published on April 12, 2011 by TicToc

versus
144 of 160 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, solid thriller
I will tell you that for a large portion of this book I was planning to give it a rather lukewarm if not negative review.
Not that it is badly written.
Because it is not, not at all. In fact it is very well written.
It is a complicated story, with a good number of characters and the author is very successful at keeping it all straight in the reader's mind...
Published on March 22, 2011 by cait


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144 of 160 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, solid thriller, March 22, 2011
By 
cait (N.J., United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Shepherd (Paperback)
I will tell you that for a large portion of this book I was planning to give it a rather lukewarm if not negative review.
Not that it is badly written.
Because it is not, not at all. In fact it is very well written.
It is a complicated story, with a good number of characters and the author is very successful at keeping it all straight in the reader's mind. And it is not because the characters are not good, because again, this is not an issue. The first major character, serial killer Ackerman is as creepy and scary as any serial killer I have ever read. Ever. It is not so much any physical description of the crimes, although that may be an issue for the more weak stomached reader, but rather the relentless psychological attacks on his victims. Disturbing stuff, but interesting stuff too, because it will make many readers question what they might do in the same situation.

The other major character, Marcus, is as interesting in his own way. He is an ex-cop, a man very able to handle himself in just about every situation, but a man dealing with a troubling, secret past. And again, when his past is revealed, the reader is forced to reconsider both their opinion of Marcus and that they would have done in his place. Again and again the question is raised, does the end ever justify the means?

Then what was the problem, why did I not like this book at first?
Well, there are two distinct stories, one about a serial killer, Ackerman and one about Marcus and how he comes upon this government conspiracy. And while the two stories interconnect to a degree, it just seemed like one story too many. Serial killer...fine. Conspiracy plot...fine. Together...why?
Then, there seemed to be a number of things that were a bit off, holes in the story, as it were. You may have noticed that I read a lot of mysteries and maybe that is why these little things jump out at me but it started to seem a bit careless of the author to have caught these mistakes.

Well, things are not always what they seem.
I will say no more, but just keep in mind if you read this book, that sometimes you have to look below the surface and when these other layers are revealed toward the later part of the book...well, I was totally surprised and totally turned around in my view of the book from lukewarm to positive. My only fear is for some readers that reward may be too late in coming, but I hope that is not the case. Nevertheless, it cost 1 star off in my opinion.

I would give this 3 and a half stars if that is possible, but since it is not, I will go lower, maybe to offset some of those 5 stars. Beware a number of those 5 star reviews for this book I think. They seem to be written by people who have never reviewed a book here before and for some reason feel compelled to review just this one. Just makes me wonder...
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written and sadistic whodunit, April 12, 2011
This review is from: The Shepherd (Paperback)
Article first published as Book Review: The Shepherd by Ethan Cross on Blogcritics.

Can evil flourish without goodness? Is it possible to be a murderer and yet not be evil? Often what lurks inside the mind makes the difference. In The Shepherd by Ethan Cross, we meet evil head on in his serial killer, Francis Ackerman. Cold and cunning, ruthless and bold, he shows no fear as he stalks his victims. Even the police are not immune to his cunning, when one of their finest is cut down along with his family. To Ackerman it is a game as he twists the tables and reduces his victims to terror, offering them the worst possible avenue in an opportunity to save themselves. It is all a part of his game, a horrible psychological game with unlivable circumstances regardless of how the game plays out.

Ackerman is the monster from your nightmares, and possibly worse. Ethan Cross creates such a believable character that you can feel the frost when he is in the room. The hairs rise on your neck and you can feel that faint sense of doom along with the victim. With short work he is able create a feel for the victim themselves, he draws them from parallels of our own life, whether it be our mother or father, our children or sister, it is all personal, and horror provoking.

Being a shepherd is tantamount to being a keeper. In days gone by the shepherd watched over the sheep and kept them safe, and nurtured them. With that in mind Cross has created a foil of goodness, to counter act the evil. Marcus Williams is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and drawn into the path of the killer. However, Williams is more than what meets the eye, he has found darkness within himself that he continues to try to purge. Having worked in law enforcement, he is conversant with the ins and outs of procedure, and when he meets the sheriff's daughter Maggie, he is smitten. When he discovers a murder close to where he lives, he realizes that the serial killer lurks in the very heart of his home.

As Marcus digs deeper into the investigation, he finds that things do not add up. There is more going on with the police and the corruption seems to come from someone high up in the ranks. Can he keep the townspeople safe from a sadistic killer? Who can he turn to for help?

In Williams, Ethan Cross has developed a hero full of flaws and with a hint of darkness in his own soul. He has faced evil before and flourished. He is hardheaded, smart, quick on his feet, and seems to be able to think his way out of the worst situations. He maintains his calm in the toughest environment and has the ability to calm the reader as well as the victim. He is charismatic and people are drawn to him. However, he is not sure whom he can trust.

This powerful thriller keeps the pace at a rapid fire. Once I started reading, it was difficult to put the book down. Right when you think you have an understanding of the situation it takes a difficult turn, throwing you off stride. It is must have for the action and thriller fan, and a great addition to any library. The Shepherd is full of surprises to the very end, you won't be disappointed and you won't see it coming.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Beginning of an Exciting Series, April 8, 2011
By 
Amazon Customer (Santa Barbara, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Shepherd (Paperback)
Ethan Cross's The Shepherd is a fast-paced, tightly-plotted thriller that has a villain who rivals Hannibal Lecter in his unwavering perversions and a protagonist out of the Jack Reacher mold in his singular determination to do what he feels is the right thing. The plot twists and turns keep the reader turning the pages so fast that this reviewer was happy he had a Kindle to turn the pages with the touch of a button so that I was not slowed down. While I can't quibble with the book's cover invoking Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity I might say that anyone who likes Nelson Demille's The Charm School will like this book. This book is the first of what is clearly going to be a very exciting series of thrillers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ludicrous, but not in a good way, April 1, 2012
This started out as a standard crime novel but just got worse and worse.
It just doesn't make any sense.

The actions scenes are cartoon like. Actually I think cartoon characters have more of a reaction to being knocked unconscious than do characters in this.

The writing isn't too bad but it does get very repetitive and the overwrought thoughts and narration of the serial killer were completely unoriginal.

There is quite a strong religious sentiment running through the book which is at odds with the frequent nasty and exploitative scenes of killing and torture.

I found the usual twists and turns to be predictable. It is far too long as the scenes begin to repeat themselves. I only read to the end so that I could write a review of it.

At least I only wasted my time rather than money.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Feast For Sadists, May 1, 2011
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This review is from: The Shepherd (Kindle Edition)
There's a school of thought here at Amazon and elsewhere that the only legitimate review of a book can stem from the reviewer having finished it. I, on the other hand, subscribe to the notion that a book is like an egg. One doesn't need to finish it to determine that it's rotten.

In this book's case, the problem of good or rotten isn't quite that simple. It's better than competently written and paced. The characterizations are well done. The settings well drawn. So why the three stars and why didn't I finish more than halfway through this one?

It's simple. The sadistic nature of this book is well beyond that which I can stomach for 'entertainment'. It was way over. I forced myself to continue beyond the first few torture scenes, but drew the line when ONE of the evil characters was setting up to torture a young woman and her two very small children. I had had enough and nothing was going to cause me to continue.

There is also a certain overlay of implausibility here. Frex, during one attack scene set inside a small house, a killer calmly walks after his intended victim when she's running to get a knife but then, runs after her when she decides to get a gun. How'd he know that he could stroll one time but must run the second time? This same killer seems impossible to catch, but does, in fact, get caught by a fat old sheriff and his Barney Fife deputy (only to escape).

I could get over the implausibilities easily, but not the sickening torture scenes. If you aren't bothered by sadism lovingly described in great detail, and also enjoy a well paced thriller, this one may be for you. If you, like me, have trouble finding entertainment in tortured deaths of innocents - proceed with care.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Goodness gracious..., June 9, 2011
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This review is from: The Shepherd (Kindle Edition)
This book could have been so good. Could have been, but it wasn't. The actual story is interesting, but poorly executed. By the end of it, I was so tired of everyone "staring into the cold, dead eyes", or the rain falling as if "all the angels cried at once", raining so hard as if "a million tears falling all at once", stopping the killer "if it's the last thing he does", and so on... You get the idea. It is full of cliches and unimaginative, overly dramatic descriptions that it detracts from the story itself. If you like that sort of thing, this one is for you!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry I wasted my money, June 2, 2011
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This review is from: The Shepherd (Kindle Edition)
Scene after scene of repetitive, gratuitous violence interwoven with tedious, repetitive dialogue, involving simplistically defined characters spouting hackneyed phrases relentlessly pounding home the theme of one's dual capacity for "good" and "evil" isn't what I consider a good read. It does, however, allow readers to hone speed reading capabilities if they make the decision about 15% in to scan through the remaining "thriller-filler" to reveal the ridiculously improbable plot twist and setup for an intended series.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One great thrill ride, April 28, 2011
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This review is from: The Shepherd (Paperback)
I always heard the mark of a great suspense novel is the inability of the reader to put the book down. The Shephard unequivocally delivers. I recieved my copy late one Wednesday night and finished the book the next afternoon wanting more. Only the annoyance of work kept me from an uninterrupted read. I have since bought several more copies of The Shepherd and given them to family and friends to enjoy Ethan Cross' first book. I failed to mention the several sleepless nights that will surely follow.

Ethan Cross masterfully weaves a tale of suspense while answering the age old question of "do the ends justify the means". In Marcus Williams, Cross creates a hero who flourishes in the face of evil but is struggleswith his own inner demons ultimately leading him on a collision course with the real monster, Francis Ackerman. Move over Dr. Lecter, there is a new monster in town. Bold, cunning and relentless, Ackerman stalks his prey leaving the reader hiding under the covers trying to convince themselves that Ackerman is just Cross' sick creation. The Shepard is a fast paced, rapid fire thriller that leaves the reader second guessing everything they thought they had firgured out. Cross is able to keep the reader off stride ultimately bringing together the two main characeters in and ending that no one can see coming. The Shepard is a must have for every suspense thriller fan. Ethan Cross delivers and The Shepherd does not disappoint.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK!!!, March 29, 2014
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This review is from: The Shepherd (Paperback)
I am not ad avid book reader, but my wife is. I got it for her and she could not put it down. besides, when she is reading, she is not nagging me. happy wife - happy life :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part of the flock, May 11, 2013
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This review is from: The Shepherd (Paperback)
Ethan Cross... This man is an artist. He has asculpted a masterpiece with this novel. It has everything one looks for in a book. It has action, suspense, mystery, a wee bit of romance, and it leads you to believe that the things in this novel aren't just fiction. Maybe, just maybe, someone like Ackerman is really out there. This story is written that well. It has a keen sense of reality, as well as an astounding portrayal of the hero many people can relate to.

Mr. Cross crafts a wonderfully woven tapestry of complex characters, genuine human emotion and philosophical musings and the ultimate existential crisis that the majority of people struggle with...albeit extreme in Marcus and Ackerman's cases. Cross doesn't pull any punches, and I applaud him for creating a..."villian" that could look Lecter in the face and not be the one to blink first.

The Shepherd is an amazing work of fiction that pulls you in, burrows it's way into your body and embeds itself in your mind. It resonates with you long after you've read the last word on the last page.
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The Shepherd
The Shepherd by Ethan Cross (Paperback - March 16, 2011)
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