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Shadow Season: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – October 27, 2009
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In Piccirilli's brooding, character-driven chiller, former New York City cop Finn, recently blinded, wallows in his new role as an English teacher at a posh girls' boarding school. A storm looms as Finn and a skeleton staff remain to supervise a handful of girls staying at the school during winter break. Piccirilli (The Fever Kill) harps on his theme of isolation with palpable glee as Finn, surrounded by self-absorbed adolescents and mysterious, brutally violent attackers roaming the campus, grapples with blindness amid a sonar-dulling snowstorm in a remote area with no cellphone service. Terrified of solitude and driven by his cop instincts, Finn embarks on a wrenching journey that exposes the raw emotion of a man nearly destroyed by disability and circumstance. (Nov.)
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“One of the most chilling thrillers of the year. Shadow Season is an intriguing story of isolation and violence with a haunted man at its center….Piccirilli uses Shadow Season’s unusual setting to ratchet up the tension, telling a story that is simple, but nevertheless very suspenseful. He also does a convincing job of portraying the life of a man who can’t see, adding a unique and inviting twist to what is already an exciting plot.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“In Piccirilli's brooding, character-driven chiller, former New York City cop Finn, recently blinded, wallows in his new role as an English teacher at a posh girls' boarding school….Terrified of solitude and driven by his cop instincts, Finn embarks on a wrenching journey that exposes the raw emotion of a man nearly destroyed by disability and circumstance.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Shadow Season has enough mystery, suspense, dread, and mayhem to satisfy nearly every crime fan....The blizzard ratchets up tension, as does our eagerness to learn why Finn wants to kill Ray….Terrific entertainment.”—Booklist
“Shadow Season is a brilliantly paced thriller, and the first book in a long time that I've stayed up all night reading….In the world Piccirilli has created, darkness takes many forms, both real and metaphorical. Make sure you have a bright reading lamp on your bedside table...you'll need it.”—Crimespree Magazine
“Shadow Season is a beautifully written thriller filled with heart and wit, sharp dialogue and characters you utterly believe in. A great ride.”—Robert Ferrigno, author of Heart of the Assassin
"Reading Shadow Season is like being put through an emotional wringer. Visceral. Savage. Intense. Powerful. Finn is a fascinating character...I can't think of another in recent memory with such a multi-faceted personality or more compelling mix of gut-level feelings."--Bill Pronzini, MWA Grandmaster
"Tom Piccirilli is at the forefront of the new breed of crime writers, welding his sense of history to a modern sensibility, creating a strong new voice."--Max Allan Collins, author of Road to Perdition
“This is an intense thriller not for sissies….You will appreciate the portrayal of the main character Finn’s so-called disability, which really isn’t one given the way he knows how to utilize it. The entire plot never lets the reader take a breath and never lets up on the gut-wrenching emotional safari into Finn’s world of blackness. The dialogue, plot and the multi-layered character reveals itself to you with hammer blows page after page. Highly recommended for thriller fans who appreciate a quality read.”—The Coloradoan
“The book rockets along. This is an 'anyone can die at any time' thriller, and if you think you've figured out what's going on before it's all over, well, you're better at figuring than I am....Piccirilli's been establishing quite a nice reputation for himself, and this book will only add to that. Check it out.”—Bill Crider
“Shadow Season is Tom Piccirilli at his absolute best. It is an erotically charged and brutally violent novel that will please not only his fans, but should delight anyone who enjoys intelligently written, high octane thrillers. Shadow Season is highly recommended.”—Horror World
Top customer reviews
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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.
I actually consider a writer like Tom Piccirilli to be a creator of magic, because that's exactly what he produces on the page. Each sentence is a smaller piece of a bigger puzzle that he always puts together ingeniously in the ends of all his books, including this one.
In Shadow Season, we have another classic Pic character: Finn, an ex-cop who lost his eyesight in a terrible way, and is now teaching at an all girls prep-school in the middle of nowhere.
Pic get's the ball rolling pretty quick, and it's no surprise that his way of telling this story will literally have your eyeballs stapled to the pages, blood oozing out and all.
It's one of the books where you catch yourself carrying it everywhere you go while you're reading it. Even if you can only sneak in a few pages in at a time throughout the day, it's still worth it.
After finding an unconscious girl lying in the snow, bleeding, but still alive, Finn tends to her. She leaves him with a cryptic warning, and then strange things start to happen from then on. The Pic Man takes you on a ride you'll never forget.
I think it's inevitable that Shadow Season will eventually be lumped in with other Piccirilli masterpieces: November Mourns, The Cold Spot, Headstone City and The Midnight Road-and anyone who liked some of those titles will be giving their minds a great gift when they pick Shadow Season up and begin to read.
We should all be grateful to have Tom Piccirilli around to tell us these awesome stories.
The raw emotion of Shadow Season is enough to make it a must read. Piccirilli's brutal poetry is, once again, pitch perfect. His characters true, their wounds real. Careful friends, this one's going to leave a mark.
Gregg Hurwitz, Orphan X: A Novel 4.5 stars
Thomas Perry, The Old Man 4.5 stars
Lisa Lutz, The Passenger 4 stars
Mark Greaney, The Gray Man (A Gray Man Novel Book 1) 3.5 stars
John Verdon, Think of a Number (A Dave Gurney Novel Book 1) 3.5 stars
A flawed, angry hero in a tight spot. I found him compelling and the novel hard to put down.
Includes a good deal of violence and profanity, two graphic sex scenes, and one graphic not-quite-sex scene.
Most recent customer reviews
Shadow Season is another brilliant novel by suspense and thriller author Tom Piccirilli.Read more
He works as a professor at an exclusive girl's school. St.Read more